You may find yourself grasping for gratitude. In 2020, I never imagined that the world would lose its footing to a virus. Those stories belong in the history of plagues and diseases like smallpox, leprosy, or polio.

Most of us have never experienced a quarantine. We’ve never seen businesses closed to protect our health and lives. We have taken our freedom to move and make choices for granted—as if nothing could or should get in our way.

My mother said this more than once.

“Be thankful for what you have.”

Loss can strangle you. Being thankful for what you have becomes obscured by what you lost.

If you grasp for anything in troubled times, grasp for hope, and practice gratitude.

When my mother took the slow walk through Alzheimer’s, I found gratitude difficult.

I remembered the words and put them into practice. Be thankful for what you have. I found gratitude in what she modeled for me in her life:

  • Stay strong and persist
  • Wear red lipstick and never leave the house without it
  • Love your family
  • Give generously
  • Create food, crafts, music
  • Sing with all our soul
  • Do your best
  • Be yourself

You, too, can find gratitude

Gratitude. The quality of being thankful. Readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. We are all part of one humanity. Let’s hold onto that reality.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
— Cicero

How willing are we to be thankful? How often do we make the effort to show appreciation? The part of this definition that poses the greatest challenge may be the willingness to return a kindness.

These are simple acts. Taking your foot off the accelerator to allow a fellow traveler in the lane of busy traffic. Opening the door for a harried mom with three toddlers in tow. Smiling. Offering an encouraging word to a co-worker, a friend, even a stranger.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
— John F. Kennedy

Gratitude’s best work comes from our actions. How will we choose to act today? Make it a daily practice.

Tips to foster gratitude daily

Small steps can change your attitude and help you grasp for gratefulness.

  • Write down in a journal or on a sticky note one thing that brought you joy today.
  • Send handwritten thank-you notes. Taking the time and effort to write a personal note has all but disappeared in our digital world.
  • Look for examples of gratitude in your family or community. You will marvel at what you can find.
  • Reflect on the people or events that inspired you. This might prompt you to send a note of gratitude. Saying thank you doesn’t have an expiration date.
  • Think about a positive experience that changed your life. How would your life have turned out if that event had not occurred?

Gratitude thoughts to carry with you

“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.”
—Maya Angelou

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
—Willie Nelson

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
—A.A. Milne

Check out more reflections on gratitude.

Be brave. Be yourself. Be grateful.

And always—

Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

Photo: © Kathryn LeRoy