April 17, 2017

Proverbs 4:23: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
 I’m a big believer in the life changing power of gratitude. I have plenty of personal experiences to add to the mounting pile of research and data that proves gratitude can and does change your mindset and mood for the better. The only problem is, sometimes I get too tired, too busy and too distracted to be grateful for all of the ways my life is blessed. There are also days when I feel overwhelmed or sad and I remember how grateful I am for the life I have and THEN I end up feeling BAD about feeling BAD! “WHY am I feeling this way when I have so much to be grateful for?!”
I have suppressed negative feelings more times than I care to admit because I felt like I didn’t deserve to be feeling that way when I am so blessed. Stuffing feelings only leads to eruptions and hurt feelings.
I’ve discovered that being grateful is kind of like taking a plunge into the pool. It gets you in the water, but you still have to swim and that is where acceptance and even prayer comes in! It’s ok to have an off day, even when you live in a positive, grateful spirit. It may sound like “dime store psychology,” but acknowledging our feelings makes them real and actually allows them to pass. I practice this with my four year old and I can tell you it works! Instead of trying to talk him out of crying or throwing a fit, I will ask him how he’s feeling, “are you feeling sad?” “No, I’m mad!” He might correct me. And within a few minutes of acknowledging his feelings, he calms down. It might sound strange, but we can actually be grateful for the wide variety of feelings we experience, even the negative ones.
If you’ve ever seen the animated movie, “Inside Out,” you remember the beautiful lesson that we cannot experience joy without sadness, it’s just not possible. We need the contrast in our lives to experience the fullness of gratitude.
Erica Bollinger, Marketing and Social Media