During this season of gratitude I find it challenging to convey what authentic thankfulness means. For years our family has spent some amount of time each week sharing things we’re thankful for. In fact, that’s the motivation behind my “Simple Joy Sundays” series: at the very least, I can share my gratitude for a simple, joyful moment.
Too often, the things I’d like to share here feel trite (healthy kids) or mundane (time together) or boastful (such above average children here in Lake Wobegon, am I right?), so I shy away from posting. Too often, our family gratitude conversations also feel trite (for family) or mundane (for Wild Krats) or boastful (my editor loved my last piece!).
When I encountered the quote below while working on a piece for Doing Good Together, suddenly sharing the little things didn’t feel so contrived.
Happiness doubled by wonder. Doesn’t that just feel right?
True gratitude is a shifting of perspectives. Gratitude is, at its essence, a movement from consciously enjoying a moment or a gift to being humbled, to wonder at the fact that this gift is yours at all.
I am thankful for healthy kids. Those aren’t words I murmur thoughtlessly. Some days I am so awestruck by this good fortune, I feel guilty. What a gift. What a wonder. I am thankful.
And time together? Joe’s new work schedule has put such a premium on time, it’s a wonder I ever allow other weekend plans at all. When I can massage our schedule enough to score a full, unscheduled day at home, enough time for us all to wind back down to a mindful pace, wonder comes more easily. And I am thankful.
Somehow aiming for wonder feels easier than practicing gratitude.
Sharing a sense of wonder with the kids often feels like my most important role. “Look! Notice! Isn’t this cool!” I’m forever exclaiming. A walk in the woods is considerably more joyful with opens eyes and an eager gaze. We see so many signs of our creature neighbors moving about, preparing for winter. We wonder over our hardy rooster, who recently survived a coyote attack in a remarkable display of steely nerves (more on this story later).
In this world that ridicules too much enthusiasm as juvenile, that mocks a person who shares too many smiles as simple-minded, that is all-too-often suspicious of kindness, I say we must all nurture a sense of wonder. Not only is it a shortcut to gratitude. To wonder is to notice the world around us. To wonder is to be mindful of our treasures and, more than that, to be earnest enough to share our joy over them.
Today, I am full of gratitude for time together, for a healthy family, and for the energy to wonder over the wold at my doorstep. I am thankful.