One night a year ago, as I lay in bed doing my gratitude practice, I had the revelation that I hadn’t said anything out loud to any of the people whose faces were floating through my mind like puffy clouds. My gratitude remained internal and had not been expressed to those I was truly appreciated. My practice felt one-sided.
Admittedly the gratitude practice, when I first began it more than 20 years ago, shifted my paradigm and changed my life. However, that night I knew it was no longer enough. I’d evolved and my practice needed to evolve.
I set the intention to speak the words out loud in the present moment as soon as I felt my heart surge and gratitude arise.
At first it was uncomfortable to say the words of appreciation that I could so easily hear in my head as I lay down to sleep. Then, as with all practices, it became a part of the ordinariness of my day.
It was during my recent week-long hospital stay that I realized that I hardly thought about sharing gratitude’s out loud anymore because they are now my new normal everyday response. In the hospital I learned that what I considered ordinary these days was extraordinary for many others. Especially for the professionally trained teams of doctors, nurses, aids, techs and housekeepers that served me so well while I was in a great deal of pain and confusion.
I witnessed how my expressions of gratitude affected those around me. I watched a 20-something young woman tear up because I took the time to explain to her how important it is for me, when I’m feeling bad, to have a clean room. Although it didn’t make me well, the very smell of a clean room always made me feel so much better. I truly appreciated the job she was doing. She turned to me with tears in her eyes and told me that was just what she needed to hear; she had not had a good day until that moment.
One of the nurses, after I’d thanked her, said, “You don’t have to thank me, I’m just doing my job.” I was able to tell her that there is a difference between doing her job and doing her job well and with compassion. She stopped a moment and truly received my appreciation, clasped her prayer hands and bowed backwards out the door.
A doctor went overboard for me, spending the night searching for an answer to my pain. After 4 days of hospitalization, no CT, MRI, blood work or team consultation had found a clue to what was going on in my body. This doctor, however, didn’t give up on me; others had. Instead of sending me home with a handful of pills and a “Good luck,” he called in a neurosurgeon who found the key to the pain.
I told the doctor that I felt he was extraordinary and thanked him for choosing his profession. He walks to my bed, held my hand and told me he needed to hear that because sometimes he wonders why he took on something so challenging.
Each of us appreciated the other, and we all grew in value.
So, if you’ve never done an evening gratitude practice, I suggest you start one. I can guarantee your that looking for something to be grateful for every day will transform your life.
And, if you’ve been doing the practice for a while, and like me, haven’t expressed your appreciation out loud, now may be a time for you to stretch yourself. Tell another you value them, and witness what appreciation can do.
Lovenough, katherine #4