A few weeks ago I gave a talk in our local church meeting about gratitude. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on the principle a bit more and am realizing that too often I am expressing the negative instead of the positive about our current situation.
Change is hard. We lovingly say that “Comfort is the enemy of adventure” and in the last few months we’ve been fairly out of our comfort zone. Being uncomfortable often leads me to compare our current adventure with those from the past but I believe that robs me of the joy I can find in the present. We can look forward to cooler, dry weather, mountain biking, and snow while fully embracing the warm water, loving people, and Aloha spirit that’s here in Hawaii. I can be grateful for what I have now, knowing that our future is bright and filled with possibilities.
One of my favorite quotes discovered while studying the topic of gratitude is by President Dieter F. Uchtdor. He said:
“Gratitude to our Father in Heaven broadens our perception and clears our vision. It inspires humility and fosters empathy toward our fellowmen and all of God’s creation. Gratitude is a catalyst to all Christlike attributes! A thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.”
When we show gratitude to our fellowmen and to our Heavenly Father we also show our humility. When we are humble we are teachable and willing to change. God is able to work with us to improve and become the best version of ourselves.
This last year has been a difficult one for me. From the outside, our life has looked exciting, adventurous, and full of joy & family togetherness. It has been all of those things, but underneath the surface there has also been a lot of self-discovery, change. Something that is always more painful that I’d like it to be. Although we’ve been living a life that most people can only dream about, I’ve had a lot of pent up resentment and feelings of being trapped. This has made it even harder for me to be grateful in any circumstance, despite the fact that outwardly our family looks incredibly blessed.
After expressing some of my frustrations to a friend, she suggested I start a gratitude journal where I would record every night something I was thankful for. Skeptical, I converted my daily planner into a daily gratitude journal and began. On some days I was able to find gratitude for sunsets, meeting up with other traveling families, or spending time together as a family. Unfortunately, other days all I could come up with was “I’m grateful for Mexican food and ice cream.”
Looking back over my journal, however, I can see patterns emerge – when I consistently express gratitude daily for the blessings in my life it opens doors that lead to happiness and joy.
So, I’d like to tell you, my dear readers, all the reasons that I am grateful to be living here in Hawaii so one day I can look back and see how much our family has been blessed:
- I get to spend time with my family exploring new places.
- By being “still” I’ve learned more about my character weaknesses (addiction to perfection being at the top of that list) and am working hard at turning those into strengths. No more running away from hard emotions.
- I’ve been able to consistently attend a meeting to receive support and love from those who also struggle with addictions of all kinds.
- My kids participate in regular neighborhood play time and have made some great friends.
- Sam has had the opportunity to learn about teaching and serving at a University and come to love the students he teaches.
- Andrew has been able to consistently attend cub scout den meetings as a Webelos which helps me not be overwhelmed by all the requirements for that rank.
- We’ve had regular internet so our kids have been able to do more of their schooling online which gives me a break.
- We’ve been immersed in a beautiful, multi-cultural community that constantly blows my mind with how thoughtful, generous, and loving they are.
- We’ve grown to love and respect the Polynesians, their traditions, and their simple way of living.
- The water is warm and I actually enjoy swimming in the ocean.
- My kids have learned to love the waves, have duck dived, boogie boarded, snorkeled, surfed, and built many sandcastles.
- I was able to purchase a SUP board and have really enjoyed learning to paddle it in the ocean.
- We’ve sat and watched the incredible waves on the north shore and stood in awe of how majestic and beautiful they are.
- We’ve tried new foods, and I’ve learned to embrace what’s available and be less concerned with eating “perfectly” balanced, nutritious meals. We will all survive if veggies are not served with every meal.
- Palm trees. Its amazing to me how incredibly useful these plants are and how much indigenous cultures depend on them.
- Shave ice, Malasadas, and pineapple soft serve ice cream.
- We’ve been able to share this beautiful place with visiting friends and family from the mainland and host them at our house. Experiencing places together has created lasting memories we will cherish forever!
- We have a reasonably priced place to live and am forever grateful to our friends for opening their home to us while they are away.
- Our home (both the condo and the Airstream) in Idaho has been safe while we are gone, and by being away we are even more excited to return.
- We’ve been able to slow down within a culture that is not concerned with materialism or appearance. “Island time” really is a thing. I feel the full time travel community is similar so it feels like home.
- We’ve been able to slowly explore this island. While vacation can be a whirlwind of fun, there are advantages to visiting places more than once (Polynesian Cultural Center, snorkeling spots, Pearl Harbor). There’s a depth to that which I don’t think we could ever have gotten on vacation.
Thanksgiving is come soon, and I love that during the month of November there are so many who express gratitude for their blessings, for family, and for the beautiful world we live in. God has said, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added until him, even an hundred fold, yea more.”
I can only hope, pray and work hard enough to develop and express gratitude that I’m worthy of such blessings. Mahalo Nui Loa!