Three weeks ago I watched a Facebook live by someone who I follow on social media and have a lot of respect for.  He was talking about Happiness – (who doesn’t love a bit of happiness) and talking about daily practices that can add to your happiness and one of them was the active practice of Gratitude.


Now, I have had my own views on Gratitude and the ‘practice’ of it and, if I’m honest, it used to kind of bug me.  I had it in my mind that daily gratitude wasn’t genuine and that sometimes people are just having a rough time and they should be allowed to have that and shouldn’t be told otherwise.


Christmas had been rough for all of us and my plans for world domination in January hadn’t quite kicked off. I wasn’t feeling happy but I had planned to. So, it came at just the right time for me.


I had sold my franchise at the beginning of December and January 2018 was to mark the start of building my new business from home and working on it like never before. It was going to mean I was at home every day, we’d be under less pressure in the afternoons and evenings and I’d be fully focussed on my business instead of half in half out as it had been up to that point.  But, all of that changed when my Dad died – the plans were still there but I felt so totally shell-shocked and emotional and drained and all the other strange feelings that come with grief that I was almost paralysed. 


I would go to bed at night having made plans and to do lists to beat the band and I’d wake up feeling like I hadn’t slept, or really sad, or just like I couldn’t do it.  So, when I saw James live and he spoke about the importance of gratitude I started to give it some thought and then he said to ‘try it’ for 21 days – every day for 21 days, think of 3 things that you’re grateful for.  I can try anything for 21 days so, off I went!


It was pretty easy to start with – I’m grateful for my children, I’m grateful for my husband, I’m grateful for my health blah blah blah blah and, of course, those things are huge and really important but it’s on the days when things aren’t going so well and you’re feeling pissed off or under pressure or a little sorry for yourself that the benefits of practicing gratitude really start to work. 


The days when you’ve been cooped up indoors because it’s lashing rain and your toddler is behaving like Chucky and your other kids are fighting like a pair of caged animals and you spend ages making  a dinner that no one will eat it and you catch a look at yourself in the mirror and you look about 25 years older than you want to and you’re side swiped by those horrible waves of unexpected grief – those are the days when it’s hard to feel grateful but those are the days when its most important and those are the days that it works best.


It gives you perspective and it shows you very clearly that even on the bad days that there are things to make you smile, make you calm, make you happy even it’s just for a minute.


Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not all happy-clappy walking around in a bubble naively thinking that if I practice gratitude that nothing bad will happen or that all negativity will leave my life – Nah!!  I know that life will throw crap at us and it will be hard and we will be hurt and some people will behave like a-holes and we will feel angry and frustrated and hard done by and all those things and I think that all of those feelings and emotions are valid and necessary and need to be respected and acknowledged  BUT, here are the words of wisdom (they’re mine so don’t expect too much) if we allow those feelings to linger and don’t let them go then they start to take over and take control and it’s hard to take back that control.  If however, we can temper those feelings with small bits of gratitude it makes those hard situations more manageable and it makes those feelings of anger and sadness less powerful and less overwhelming.


I was at a talk last week and it was suggested that we find a gift in everything – even in the ‘bad’ things and that really got me thinking; My Dad dying 5 days before Christmas when I was on the trip of a lifetime in Lapland seemed like the worst thing that could possibly happen but there were so many gifts in his dying – we were surrounded by so many loved ones and heard so many amazing stories and relived so many fantastic memories of what a great and wonderful man he was before he was sick, I was reminded of how wonderful my friends are, how supportive my husband is and how great my siblings are – so even though, at the time, it felt so awful there are a lot of things that came out of it that I’m grateful for.


John being diagnosed with heart failure was another kicker and felt like the bottom had fallen out of our world BUT we have discovered that there are things we can do to help, that we can have a little bit of control and that eating WFPB diet is actually delicious and we feel great – all of these things are gifts to be grateful for and without gratitude you run the risk of feeling very sorry for yourself – and, let’s be honest, no one likes a whinger!


So, in summation – Gratitude is deadly! Some of the things I have found myself grateful for over the past 21 days have included – Fireman Sam, Instagram filters, my warm bed, the girl who does my nails, nice food, running my own business, lunch with my mum, other mums and other really really profound stuff. 


It doesn’t have to be all deep and meaningful but start each day with a grateful heart and I promise you that it will change your perspective and what seems like an unbearable situation suddenly becomes slightly more manageable.  Today I’m grateful for Gratitude! 


Máire Toomey is a mother of three from Dublin blogging about the impact of her husband's heart condition on the day to day lives of a family of 5.

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