Sophie is a cosmic vibration. Elfin, fierce, loving… primed equally to start a belly laugh that will have you crying and gasping for breath or a righteous battle if she smells a bully and an underdog. She’s a blur of energy, constantly in motion.
Sophie, like me, has been searching for something for a long time now. A better way to live, a better way to handle the karma we’ve been born into. We’re both on a quest to leave our toxic beginnings behind us and use those hardships as the nucleus of change instead of permission for thoughtless behavior and failed relationships. She lives and learns every day to channel her energy and anger into loving kindness toward herself and the world. It has been a gift to watch her grow.
Several years ago Sophie asked friends Kathy, Dee and me to join her in sharing three things we are grateful for via email every day. This gratitude list (now shorthanded to the “G-List” as we laughingly call ourselves the “G-Chicks”) has persevered for more than two years now. Even when life gets hectic and a few days go by without the list, one of us will pick it up again and keep it going. The entries usually have two parts; the “what” or “whom” followed by the “why” as we remind ourselves why it is important.
I kept a gratitude journal sporadically up until then, a solo effort, after reading Martin E.P. Seligman’s book, Authentic Happiness while getting my master’s degree in psychology a few years ago. The field of positive psychology has so much to offer beyond traditional psychology. One attempts to help you to be less sad and the other gives you tools to be more happy -to find contentment in life. Keeping a gratitude journal is a basic tenant of positive psychology and a huge impetus in turning around negative thinking. Sharing the G-List with friends makes it a habit with accountability.
When I was struggling with the recent events in my life, the G-List helped turn things around for me. How can one complain about the flaws in a temporary rental home when so many sleep on city streets? How can one complain about having to downsize belongings when every day we see people who escape violence in war zones with only the clothes on their backs? How can one complain about a respectful parting of ways when so many suffer through divorces that are churning with anger and sometimes violence?
The G-List encourages us to consider life in a different way. We are, as midlife insomniacs, sometimes grateful for what little sleep we did get at night instead of being upset that we’re not fully rested -again. We are grateful that, while weather may cancel long awaited plans, no one was injured in the storm and we can still get our mom to dialysis. We are grateful as a big ugly car repair looms that we (ouch) have the resources to pay for it. We are grateful to see new doors opening instead of bathing in bitterness about things we cannot control.
So after wallowing for a little while in a sea of self-pity after my divorce, my G-List entries begin to reflect some positive changes in thinking. I am grateful for my health because it allows me to do the things I love to do. I am grateful for my friends and my children because they make my life sweet and complete.
While not a wealthy woman in financial terms, I am grateful to be able to live contentedly with abbastanza, Italian for “enough.” Being happy with less allows me to take on work because I love it, not because I need it. I am grateful for the G-List because it confirms every day that I am wealthy in a million more important ways. And I am grateful for Sophie, our whirling dervish, who in her determination to thrive has helped the rest of us live that much better.