4 Things I Learned About Gratitude in 2022
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1. Gratitude is a Daily Practice
In 2019, when I was in Ghana recovering, I was given “Thank-You Jesus” beads by my mother. You go through each bead reciting, “thank you, Jesus,” about five times around. Since then, I’ve added the beads to my morning routine and used them as part of my gratitude practice. I found this has helped me to anchor myself first thing in the morning.
I typically start by going through each bead saying, ‘thank you,” but I like to add things that I’m grateful for as I do it. “Thank you for the sun, thank you for the foodbank, thank you for the hosts that book me to care for their pets, thank you for life, thank you for breath, thank you, thank you.”
It's been about 3 years since I started that. And I mean, daily, with the rare exception when I miss it. Even if I don’t use the beads, I’ll through a list of at least five things I’m grateful for. Every single day, even throughout the day sometimes.
I do this consistently, because like I said, it helps anchor me. It gives me perspective, especially when life is hard, or if I’m in a negative spiral, unable to see anything worthwhile about living. Setting aside time each day, especially right before I get up helps me to sink into gratitude, even if when I get out of bed, I find myself miserable throughout the day. Since I got the beads, we’ve had a global pandemic, inflation, and climate crisis surging even worse. Since then, I’ve finished my Ph.D., currently struggling to find income and employment, or housing and food. But somehow, I’ve never gone without. There are lots of players who take part in keeping me going, including humans, animals, and the natural elements. I make sure that I remind myself of the network keeping me alive daily.
2. Gratitude takes a lot of Consistent [Invisible] Faith
It can be hard to hear folks in spiritual communities blaming you for your own downfall or hearing that good things don’t come your way because you aren’t grateful, or your mentality and mindset aren’t where it needs to be. I’m not here to argue whether they are right or wrong, I’m simply saying, some of the victim-blaming narratives that don’t account for the ways we’re all caught up in powerful webs of exploitation or dominating systems that mean harm. There are sociocultural and political realities that render many of us powerless, to not account for these realities is strange.
As I said, I start each and every day with gratitude. I start each and every day saying the rosary like I was taught a good Catholic does. I start each and every day with a prayer to my creator, to the ancestors that guide me, and to the archangels that surround me. I meditate every morning, and still, like hasn’t played out how I hope it would. Meaning for me, gratitude takes a lot of faith.
I’ve been trying to find a different word for blind faith so as to not be ableist, but invisible faith was the closest thing. Google gave me other words like naïve, and that too. Because when you are grateful (even when you’re not), and things don’t manifest, it can be hard to stay grateful. When life is still throwing curve balls at you; when the climate is still in chaos; when humans are price gouging each other; when all the horrors of the world give you a reason to lose faith, it's hard to stay grateful. It requires a lot of trust and knowing that gratitude works.
Also, asking people to be grateful for things that caused them harm, or for the violence inflicted against them is madness. That’s another blog post though.
3. Gratitude Begets More Gratitude
I do notice that gratitude does beget more gratitude, even in small and unexpected places. Somehow, I’m always given more reasons to be grateful, even when I feel undeserving. Things have a way of falling into place. People and resources show up out of nowhere. There are always reasons to be grateful, at least, in my experience. I also recognize a lot of privilege and that I can’t speak for everyone.
4. Gratitude Feels Good
I’ve woken up in a lot of pain, and as soon as I start going through those beads, I feel myself shifting energetically. I’m not saying gratitude cures my pain or heals any physical ailments per se, but it does feel good somehow, I don’t know how to explain it. It lifts me out of a downward spiral. It recentres me. It grounds me on an energetic level.
If I say that love feels good, you know what I mean. I saw a tweet recently that said that rest feels good, same with gratitude. It just feels so good. You feel so supported, held, and cared for when you feel grateful. Like, damn, it’s really going to be alright. Thank you.
Thank You for your Support in 2022
2022 gave me many reasons to be grateful.
I started the year off pet sitting for the first time and have been grateful for the pets and hosts I’ve met this year. I’ll do a blog in the new year on how pet-sitting this year has been. I got to be part of different communities I’m also grateful for, like Wanda Duncan over at Black Women Travel. Wanda’s my person of the year, hands down. My new supervisor who helped me finish my Ph.D. also comes to mind in terms of people I’m grateful for. She got me an editor I would not have finished without. I’ve had Airbnb hosts who have been gracious and supportive. Strangers who pop out of nowhere and help me out with different things. I’ve had aunties and uncles show up for me emotionally and financially. Friends who let me stay by them when I’ve struggled to find housing. FaceTime chats gave me clarity. So many reasons to be grateful, even on the toughest days.
For all of it, thank you. I couldn’t have made it through this year without you and your support. Thank you for reading my blog posts, watching my videos, and listening to my audio. I appreciate you if you shared my stuff, mentioned my name in a room, or simply, just watched from afar.
I’m wishing you and yours the happiest New Year.
May 2023 be a better year for those who struggled in 2022. Here’s to good health, smart decisions, lots of pleasure, abundance, moving with ease, less work, more pay, and most of all, a great and loving community.
Until next time, in solidarity.