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  • Writer's pictureSweta Patel

Gratitude, Not Comparison: Small Steps, Big Impact

Rory speaks. Sweta writes. How one addict's story raises questions for reflection for any one of us.




Rory says that it's easy for him to find things to be grateful for. He was addicted to crack and living homeless, but now has a home with a supply of food and loving relationships. Everything feels like a gift.


But for those of who haven't felt such an extreme loss, it can be harder to focus on what we do have instead of what we don't. Photos that run through our social media feeds tend to add fuel to this fire. We scroll through people's vacation photos, family reunions, promotions, and milestone moments, and maybe wonder, "What am I doing with my life? I'm so behind (and I'm not good enough.)"


But in Should've Been Dead, Rory shares: "I don't compare my life to someone else's. I just look at my own situation, my own life, how it's been, and how it's now. Things aren't perfect, but..."


I think the words that continue past that "but" are the perfect place to start our reflections about what we're grateful for. In what ways have we personally grown? What do we have now that we didn't have before? Who or what along our journey helped us with this growth?


We can look at multiple aspects of our life--health, relationships, lifestyle, work, hobbies... And I appreciate Rory's reminder that gratitude is more than a feeling of thankfulness. In fact, that's a fleeting feeling that only lasts until the next disappointing thing. Instead, gratitude is a mindset that's expressed through action.


Rory expresses his gratitude through his work in the community and by giving time to nurturing close relationships in his life. It can also involve starting our day with a smile, sending a "thinking of you" text, or just pausing to look at the sunset with a deep breath.


We may not be where we want to be in every aspect of our life, but we can pause and celebrate the steps forward that we have made.


Behavior changes biology. Gratitude can boost our mood, lower our anxiety, improve sleep, and help with heart health. Gratitude is a chosen state of being.

 

For All of Us: Consider your life, where you were, and where you are now. What growth brings a smile to your face? Let's hold on to this gratitude.


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