I had a good day last week, one of those where you feel like patting yourself on the back at the end of the day. One of those where things fell into place, the kids behaved okay, and you feel like you’re in one piece. One big happy piece.
I breathed. I played. I observed. I smiled. I ate. I played a bit more. I socialised. I comforted. I chided.
I even played some worship music during lunch. (I definitely need to consciously play more of my favourite Christian songs when the kids are home. It relaxes my soul and puts me in a posture of hope.)
I took a walk downstairs with Vera and JJ while Josh was having a nap, got the groceries, stopped for a cuppa, broke up a fight.
All small things. But I was reminded to not look down on the small.
The small things add up. Small thoughts form a a mindset. Small habits, a life. Small acts of kindness can mean so much to a person who’s feeling down and lost. Small words of encouragement could even save a soul.
But the next day came and it turned out awry.
One kid was particularly cranky. My plans were disrupted as I found out (only upon arriving at the door) that the store I wanted to get some groceries from was still closed for CNY. Immediately after, I missed the bus and was irked to find that it would take another 20 minutes for the next one to arrive. The small things added up too, and I was a total grouch master upon arriving home.
By dinner time, I was already hiding in my room, away from the kids and the noise and the scuffles. Away from the messy business of parenting.
It was then I realised that there is no such thing as a perfect day. We often cannot control how our days unfold. What we CAN control is our responses to the events, and our responses to the people around us.
By choosing gratitude, we redeem the day, warts and all, and turn it into something more bearable.
Cultivating a grateful heart
A grateful heart makes it easier to see the things that do go as planned, rather than ruminate over the ones that don’t.
A grateful heart helps us let go of the stress and anger that have crept in during the day.
A grateful heart makes it easier to connect with, rather than push away, the people you love.
A grateful heart makes it easier to navigate the unknowns of life.
How exactly do we cultivate a grateful heart? Here are 9 good ways.
Starting from today, take time to pause, and count your blessings. Take time to hug and do small things with great love. Notice when you’re ruminating on negative thoughts. Catch them and think about the positive side for a change. Make a gratitude list. Practice good emotional hygiene.
Notice when you’ve done well, give yourself a pat on the back for it. And in areas where you haven’t, don’t beat yourself over it. Being kind to yourself is a form of self-care too.
Breathe in those small and simple joys. Breathe in hope and delight. Let our hearts be conscious of our treasures.