You know how all those self-help, ‘achieve your wildest dreams’ type of books always always say that you have to practise Gratitude, to give thanks and be grateful for our lot in life?
On a superficial level, yes I understood it well. Oh yes, we have food to eat when others around the world are starving, we ought to give thanks and be grateful. We have a house to live in and a roof over our heads, yes, we ought to give thanks and be grateful. The logic of it made sense, and yet at a deeper level, I did seriously question the point of practising gratitude.
What was meant to happen after that? How come I still hadn’t moved forward to where I was visualising every day?
So as I was going through the typical motions, admittedly not without some cynicism and questioning, I decided one day to try practising Gratitude where it was most difficult.
This was in part because I was writing Be Happy HQ’s e-book Breathe, Give Thanks and Smile, and as much as I believed in the principles of it, I needed to know that it worked and how, or at least try to find out.
Also, initially I thought that by doing so, I would find some inner peace in a complicated situation but what happened has so astounded me that it has completely changed my outlook on giving thanks.
The situation was this: One particular year, I faced the exceptionally difficult challenge of having a personality clash with the teacher of my daughter’s class. Much of this was the difficulty in communicating with her. Every time I spoke to her, I felt bulldozed and unheard. I ALWAYS came away angry, frustrated and always vowed never to speak with her again.
She never seemed to listen to what I had to say, or to the questions I needed to ask, and she always seemed to take the ‘I know what I’m doing and you should listen to me’ attitude.
Things got so bad that I would end up shaking with anger and frustration every time I had to speak with her. I would avoid catching her eye, and I even refused to go to the Parent-Teacher meeting as I was afraid that she would wind me up so much that I might lose my patience and do something irrational.
As it turns out, after a while, I wrote the 3 simple steps e-book. The book was written very quickly and it just flowed out, so while I enjoyed writing it and believed very much in it’s message, I did not try specifically practising it’s message on anyone in particular.
One day, this realisation struck me. Here I was advising everyone else to do it, and yet I did not actually practise it. I realised that I needed to actually use it myself.
From that moment on, every time I thought of this teacher, I said a grateful Thank you and tried to look for reasons to thank her, no matter that I did not agree with the things that she did or said.
Believe me, it was not easy at first, and of course, my logical mind had it’s doubts but I persisted.
Every time I thought of her,
I thanked her for doing her best (as she was doing the best that she knew how to)
I thanked her for being devoted to her work
I thanked her for wanting the best for my child
I simply just kept finding reasons to thank her.
And whenever I felt frustrated, I would remind myself that she was only doing what she could do, to the best of her ability and knowledge and for that, I thanked her too.
And what happened next was simply astounding.
Three days in to thanking her every moment that I thought of her, I was stopped at the ‘pick-up’ door.
“Can I have a word?” she says.
I can feel my body instantly tense, but there’s no escape. I cannot make up a reason quick enough to high-tail out of there, so reluctantly, and with a forced smile on my face, I go in.
It turns out that, they had noticed that G, at that time, was not doing what she was capable of, in class and most surprisingly, the question became “How do we help her do better in class?”
The conversation that ensued was pretty much the best one that we ever had, which actually involved her listening (for which I was truly grateful).
But more than that what was truly amazing was the fact that something had changed and I no longer felt angry or frustrated every time I thought of her or spoke to her and she had proven that she really was doing her best for my child.
And for that I was truly grateful.
Do you find time every day to say Thanks? Have you ever experienced something extraordinary simply by being grateful?
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Above all, take care and be happy.