November 2015 Column Winner

The power of gratitude can be life-changing

Haylie Smart, Owasso Reporter

Being grateful has changed my life.
This is the season for being grateful, but I learned the true benefits of it a few months ago when I needed it most.
I was very unhappy with some aspects of my life and one day I was complaining about all of it to my mom. She was busying herself with wiping the kitchen counters when she stopped and looked at me.
“What if you only had today what you thanked God for yesterday?” she asked.
That simple question stayed with me and at the time I was reading Walking with God by John Eldredge. The author kept a journal of his prayers and conversations with God and encouraged his readers to do the same.
I went to a drug store and bought an .89-cent notebook and decided to write every day five things I was grateful for. It started out as simple things, such as, a morning cup of coffee, reliable transportation and sleeping in on the weekends. After a couple of weeks it became more specific, such as, homegrown pattypan squash, the first signs of autumn and feeding ducks at the park.
After doing this for a month I was amazed at how many things I never wanted to live without. I was grateful for everylittle thing, especially the people in my life.
Such as, my coworker Karen bringing me a gift from her vacation, my granny telling her church friends how proud she was of my Smart Cents program and playing Spinner and Rummikub with my grandparents.
It was around this time I started feeling joy again, despite my life situation still being the same. It was so gradual, I can’t pinpoint when it happened.
For the first time in my life I can say I’m genuinely happy and content with what I have and what I don’t have. My family and friends have all noticed the change and say I’m a completely different person than I was six months ago.
I encourage everyone to take stock of what you have and write it down. What if what you said “thank you” for today was all you had tomorrow? That was exactly what I needed to hear to realize my life really wasn’t bad at all.
Anyone who knows me knows my dream is to teach English and it’s becoming a reality more every day. I believe in my daily practice so much I’m going to implement it in my classroom.
Hopefully, when my students move on they’ll keep journaling all their daily blessings, but more importantly, they’ll understand the power of gratitude. They may even go on to teach others how it can change a life.
When I write my five things before bed tonight, writing this column will be one of them. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to share this personal story.

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