God, Gratitude, and Giving
After deciding that fresh air would be more positive than the scroll-hole that I like to call social media, I launched my kayak and got on the water. We bought the kayak years ago, when my guy was about to deploy so that I could get on the water; I never got on it. It felt too lonely to get on the water without him. This week, the loneliness of this pandemic had me doing something that I had never done, which is launch the kayak alone. Once I got on the water, I wondered why I had never done it before. The waters were not calm, but I felt safe. The fresh air felt good, and I felt free. It was a lovely experience, and while out there, I was reminded of my 3 G’s – God, Gratitude, and Giving. Those 3 G’s will get me out of a funk and into joy in no time. Now, if you aren’t a religious person, don’t worry; this isn’t a religious blog. Religion and spirituality can be interchanged here, but I happen to believe in God, and it starts with G, so stick with me.
Let’s start with God, or spirituality, or the universe, or whatever higher power you believe in. Every time I look at the ocean, the open desert, or a sky filled with stars, I am reminded that there is something far greater than me out there, and that my friends, is my first G – God. Creation THAT magnificent has to come from a Being far greater than human beings. Back to my introductory statement, if you don’t believe in a higher being, just keep reading. I am not writing to convince anyone to have faith; that is not my purpose. Now, back to the vastness of space or the ocean…sometimes, the grandiose expansion of it actually puts me in my place. When I start thinking about myself as a little human, in this little village, on this little island, here on this little Earth, I begin to recognize how little and insignificant my challenges are. When I think of time and space as infinite, I almost laugh at some of my seemingly, little problems. Now, I am not saying that I am not loved and valued, but think about it – my first world problems, my slight inconveniences, and even my stressors, big or small, are pretty insignificant when you think about the vastness of our universe. I am blessed, truly blessed. I am healthy; my family and friends are healthy. THAT is a blessing. All of the other challenges really are insignificant. Something or someone has blessed me, and it is my belief that GOD has blessed me. Also, if I can make time to reflect on things like this during a pandemic, I have to recognize that I truly am privileged. This leads me into the next G – Gratitude.
Every time I want to have the poor-me’s, every time I want to throw a solo-style pity-party; every time I live in fear, anxiety, concern, or negativity in any capacity, if I have the mental strength to shift to GRATITUDE, all of those negative feelings go away. I have a fairly strong gratitude practice. I like to write down what I am grateful for on a daily basis. Sometimes, they are the basics: a loving family, my health, my dog, friends, clean water, and food on the table. Sometimes, they are for other things like money in my checking account, new running shoes, or the ability to get online and order just about anything I could ever want. Sometimes, I just have to step outside and take a deep breath of fresh air, and that is enough to give me this feeling of gratitude. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t just jump from the pity-party to gratitude in seconds or even minutes. Sometimes it takes some self-convincing, but mostly it takes practice. I have to remember to get up, to step outside, to take that big, deep breath, and when I do, boy does it feel good. All of those icky feelings dissipate…in seconds.
My last big G is GIVING. I love to give. I love to give time. I love to give money. Sometimes I love to give gifts, and every time I make the effort to give something, it feels good. Am I generous? Yes. Do I do it for selfish reasons? Yes. I love to feel good, so I give to help others, and I selfishly give so that I can feel good. Do others benefit from my giving? Yes. Are all of these positive things? Yes. Now, there are some amazing side effects that come with giving, and that is a whole other blog, but I can honestly say that when we give – whatever we can – we just feel better. This pandemic has been challenging for me because I can’t get out and do the volunteerism that is a big part of my life, so I have had to great creative. I check in with people. I support small businesses by buying things I would not normally buy. I donate where I can. I go online and order gifts. I write letters. The giving may not “look” like it used to, but when I can figure out how to give, I start to feel better once again.
There are some other G’s out there that I like: gentleness and grace are two of my other favorites, but I know what my 3 big G’s are, and I encourage you to try at least one of the G’s next time you are feeling a little down. The sooner you shift from feeling frustrated, anxious, sad, lonely, or scared to one of the 3 G’s, I guarantee you will feel better too.
If want more of any of these 3 G’s because you feel as if I have glossed over them, come back and read another week, because I am sure that I will write in more detail about each of them again.