On Gratitude and Perspective

As today is Thanksgiving here in Canada, I thought I’d take a few moments to express my gratitude for the privileged life that I lead. They say that privilege is invisible to those who have it, so it’s important to reflect on what we have rather than focus on what we don’t.

Far too often, we hurry frantically from one place to the next, one task to the next, never pausing to take a breath and to look around. If anything, we probably take too many moments focusing on the more difficult or stressful parts… but gratitude is simply a matter of perspective. When you are ready to flip the switch, you can see the world in a whole new light.

There’s too much to do!

My life is a busy and full one, packed with responsibilities and precious moments. While I certainly had to endure the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, I never had to scramble to find work in order to pay the bills or to keep a roof over my head. I’ve always had some work on my plate, which is a luxury not afforded to many self-employed individuals. I have neither the time nor the luxury of being bored and for that, I am grateful.

My family is so intrusive!

Especially since becoming a dad last year, I have been bombarded by a deluge of unsolicited advice. My family keeps pointing out the things that we should be doing better or the things that we are doing wrong. This could be construed as criticism or nagging. Or, I can express my gratitude in understanding that they come from a place of good intention. They mean well and they’re only trying to “help” because they care about our well-being.

My house is a mess!

Because there is always so much to do, it’s hard to find the time to keep up with housework and cleaning up. What this also means is that we are in the tremendously privileged position of having a safe and comfortable home in which to live. It means that we have the luxury of owning a range of material goods. And for that, I am grateful. (Especially our TV!)

I don’t get paid vacations or sick days!

As a freelance writer, it’s true that I “miss out” on many of the benefits afforded to my more traditionally-employed counterparts. I don’t have a company health plan, paid holidays, or access to parental leave. What I do have is the theoretical freedom to take a vacation or a sick day any time that I want without having to ask for approval from a supervisor or manager. My schedule is flexible and it allows me to stay home with my daughter.

The baby keeps crying to be picked up!

Taking care of a infant or toddler is no easy task, as any parent can surely attest. They can start crying for seemingly no reason whatsoever, since they lack the ability to communicate their wants or discomforts in words. If the baby is constantly asking to be picked up, it simply means she values my company and wants to be held. She is simply expressing her love… which may become more difficult as she gets older.

At the end of the day, it’s true that I complain too much and it’s high time I challenged my negative self-talk. All things considered, life is pretty good. It can be stressful. It can be worrisome. But the sources of stress and worry are also sources of joy, content, and a sense of purpose.

Do you practice expressing your gratitude on a regular basis?