My roommate and I have a small painting on our wall that she made that says the words "choose to be grateful" in beautiful writing with fall colored leaves surrounding it. Some days I look at the painting and it acts as an encouragement, while other days it seems like a splinter in my foot reminder. Some days it is natural, other days it seems like the most foreign concepts I can think of.
Grateful comes from the Latin word gratus which means pleasing, agreeable, and thankful. Makes sense, but how are we supposed to choose those things when things aren't favorable and pleasing? If we are only grateful when the circumstances are going the way we want them to, what are we to do during the difficult stages of life? Is there even a point in choosing to be grateful when things are particularly going your way?
Somedays it is very, very difficult to remember to be grateful. Weeks with three midterms and little sleep aren't usually at the top of the list of things that I am grateful for. I often get bogged down in the circumstances that I forget the purpose or the meaning of what I am doing. When I take a step back, look at the larger picture, and choose to be grateful, that is when I start to remember the beauty of the circumstances because I know the end goal. Sure I might not be completely content with the circumstances but I am getting a fantastic education, in two areas that I have a real passion for. The classes and schedule that I have right now are preparing me for my future education and career. I am grateful for the opportunities, even though it seems difficult now.
One thing I struggle with when choosing to be grateful is that I often subconsciously tell myself that if I am going to be grateful I must also be very happy. I have to remind myself that it isn't always the case. Gratefulness can often result in being happy, but you do not always have to be happy to be grateful. Some of the times where I have been the most grateful were also times where it seemed like nothing was going right in my eyes.
So no matter what we are feeling we can, and should choose to be grateful. Instead of honing in on the things that we are discontent with maybe we should focus on the things that are more "pleasing" and "agreeable" to us. What are areas in your life that you can inwardly agree are going well or things that you are thankful for?
Being overly enthusiastic is not a requirement. The only thing necessary to choose to be grateful is acknowledgment. That simple acknowledgment can go a long way from bringing a small smile across your face, to the reminder that your journey is part of a larger plan and the work going in right now will all be worth it. Choose to be grateful.