A friend called in a cynical mood. He was disgusted with his job and his less-than-ideal house.
“I want you to do something,” I said. “Practice being grateful for everything you don’t like every day, five times a day, for the next month. Force it. Fake it. Do whatever you have to. But you’ve been practicing misery about these same things for the past three years. That hasn’t worked. Why not give gratitude a try?”
He was reluctant. I told him a story from my life. The first house I ever bought was decrepit, falling apart. Holes went clear through to the outside. I didn’t know how to fix it up. For the first three months I lived there, I went downstairs each night after putting my daughter to bed, sat in the middle of the ugly living room, and complained and cried. The situation didn’t improve. I decided to try something else. I began practicing gratitude instead. I said, “Thank you for this house, the holes in the walls, and the way I feel.” Thank you became a meditative chant. Over the next nine months, I started fixing up that house, and it turned into the most beautiful home on the block. Thirty years later, I still remember it as my favorite house. Perspective is a strange thing. It wasn’t just about transforming that house. Going through that experience gave me an opportunity to see for myself that gratitude works.
My friend was quiet for a while. “I used to practice gratitude,” he said. “Then I forgot. Practicing gratitude was how I was able to move out of my last house. It helped change my life. I have to go,” he said. “I can’t wait to start practicing gratitude again.”
Inventory Focus: Have you been practicing misery? How’s that working? Have you learned about the power of gratitude yet? Are you willing to give it a try?
From the desk of Melody Beattie
Originally posted January 4, 2015
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