Gratitude, Black Girl: It Makes for a Juicy Life

It feels better to feel better.

Shall we? Cool.

Black Girl,

Think of a time when something in your life…changed, and not in a way you wanted to change. This, you might have labeled as a negative change, instead of JUST change. And that is what’s commonly referred to as a “problem.” Well, change only creates a problem if you present the new situation in a negative light.  I’d bet my own life that if you stumbled upon a twenty-dollar bill you wouldn’t consider this a problem — but it’d still be change. Hell, if you found a TWO-dollar bill, you’d view it as welcomed circumstance! What if you happened upon a sweet little snake? This would likely be viewed as a problem. Why? Because you’ll have presented the circumstance to yourself much differently than the first.

Have you ever wondered why when someone you know has a problem, it’s “not that bad, girl!” Yet, when you find the same thing in your own existence, you ask, ” Why ME!?” You worry. You let anger take hold. Sadness crops up. Frustration and irritation throw a party and you’re left holding the bag…right? Not so fast, sis. All emotions you experience in response to ANY change in circumstance are a choice. A choice. There’s a clear element of sheer power in that. That is not to say you should try not to feel. Simply aim to look at ALL aspects of the change, and you can start by making gratitude your go-to feeling. Easier said than done, but bare with me.

See, gratitude is never a hard thing to muster. It’s just that most of us pretend it’s not a must. It’s more than a must; it’s the key to a life well lived and here’s how I know: One can’t possibly feel worry and gratitude simultaneously. One can’t feel anger and gratitude, or be fearful and grateful at the same time. It’s like trying to be depressed and ecstatic! Ain’t gonna happen. The brain summons the physiological components necessary to experience one opposing emotion or the other — never both. Why not choose the one that makes you feel good?

It’s like the last time you cried, then someone said or did something that made you laugh in the midst of your tears. Hopefully, what happened is that you felt silly trying to make yourself cry again, that is, after you experienced just how good the laugh felt. Why does that happen — that it’s hard to go back to sulking feeling sad after feeling just a hint of a better alternative? I think it’s because it’s in that moment that you realize that you can feel better and that all is not lost. It breaks that pattern of allowing negative associations you tied to the situation to dominate your thinking. That, alone, is enough to be grateful for. But beyond that, allowing one problem to dominate your thinking forces you to turn away from all the people, events and things in your life you’d be devastated without. Why not actually take a moment to remember what gratitude FEELS like in the midst of this problem? It’s called focus. What you focus on, you feel. And I gotta tell ya, I know of at least 5 million children who would have LOVED to have your kinds of problems, but they had a few of their own: Extreme poverty and malnutrition. Needless to say, they died.  Difficult to reconcile? Maybe. A fact nonetheless? Yep. Gratitude is everything and a simple change in your perspective might be the perfect conduit.

In any problem or change in situation, again you have a choice. Focus on how it could have been worse and why you’re grateful it wasn’t. Focus on the major opportunity it presents and ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” vs “Why did this happen to me?” There’s always something new to be learned from every change – welcome or unwelcome – and there’s always the opportunity to choose gratitude over the negative emotions you might associate with the change itself. The onus lies with you to choose whether you actually do or not.

Choose gratitude, black girl. Gratitude gives your life the juice it needs to thrive, and damn it, life should be juicy.

“If you want to know the quality of your life, measure it by how much time you spend in gratitude.” Tony Robbins


PS – Each time I stumble upon a snake, I’m always grateful when I don’t get hit by a car. See?

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