“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” ~G.K. Chesterton
In a houseful of teenagers, preteens and young adults I rarely know how many there will be for dinner. It could be as small as the three of us left, or as many as twelve with the steady boyfriend or girlfriend, or the clan of boys surrounding my younger son. It is rare, however for it to be all four of the kids and my husband and I. The last time we had any consistent time as a family unit was last Christmas when we spent two weeks in Hawaii. I treasure the moments when it is all of us, if only because I see the writing on the wall and I know that these times will increasingly become the family holiday.
Today we had one of those. I am still not sure how I pulled it off, except that on waking up and being greeted by a perfect summer day, I realized how little summer has gotten into me. I thought of the lake, which for many years now has come to be synonymous with an easy summer getaway. These are the days when we load up the car with as many friends as we can, I leave my work at home, we rent a large island floatie and, voila, it is the heart of summer. Somehow, we all ended up lakeside today, even my husband who is often reticent to join in large group activities was there.
Every time I looked up and witnessed the multiple activities going on, I felt grateful for each and every one of them. The gratitude was not even person specific. It was an overall sense of goodness at the family we have created over the years. Under a warm blue sky, I sat lakeside with all the people I love best in the world and there was nothing pulling me away from the experience. There was no place I would have rather been and even as the kids peeled off one by one, into their own activities, I felt full of the kind of gratitude that is happiness doubled by wonder.
I have been thinking about gratitude a lot lately as I am reviewing the lessons from the first half of the positivity quest and realize that I still have a lot to learn about the gifts of gratitude in a life. I keep getting glimpses of really just how lovely life can be and then I go and forget to express gratitude for it, not even to me. At the end of the day, gratitude that goes unexpressed is really no better than ingratitude. Whether it is through a gratitude journal or gratitude note or letter, my days have to become more about noticing every piece that works. This is the new discipline, naming the gifts that life is giving all the time and learning how to be more and more present to them.