Why am I not happy? Why do I feel so stuck sometimes? Is it grief? Yes. That’s part of it. But there are times when I procrastinate. There are times when I don’t feel like doing anything. There are times when I simply want to stay in bed and not get up to face another day. Oh yeah. That’s what grief does.

But sometimes, I know it’s more than just the grief. And somehow, I think we may all feel the same way sometimes. Perhaps a new perspective could prove valuable?  

In recent weeks, as I have continued to shelter in place in my house (with four fur kids and no one else to keep me company), I have had a lot of time to think about so many things. What is it that causes me to feel so stuck? Why do I wait until the last possible minute to write these blog posts every week, knowing that I have a deadline (for the posts I publish to other websites in addition to my own)?

It’s simple. I had stopped feeling grateful.

It’s funny how just being grateful—feeling gratitude about all the little things in life—has changed my perspective about the things that motivate me. Gratitude is what has helped me to improve on almost everything I have been trying to achieve.

When I choose gratitude, I am presented a real opportunity to see beyond my current situation and start thinking about the positive things around me.

If I take a step back and look at the impact choosing gratitude as an approach to life, my career or even my relationships, I can find joy in even the smallest of things… Things like my dogs’ barking. In my cat’s meow. In the birds singing outside.

And, of course I find it in bigger things, too. Like from the love I have from my new person. From the love from my daughters. From the sunshine. From the morning dew on the flowers in my garden. From beautiful sunsets that remind me of Suzanne.

One of the last sunsets over the Pacific Ocean that Suzanne and I enjoyed watching together

With presence, with gratitude and with an open mind, I can start to see new opportunities and begin to think differently. By being grateful for what I have, I can release previously held ideals and expectations.

Quite simply, gratitude offers me a new-found freedom. It allows me to focus on the things that help me to start taking concrete (even small) steps toward identifying and meeting my true needs and setting realistic, achievable goals I can meet to move my life forward. It truly is profoundly satisfying to practice gratitude every morning.

While not everything is good, I am grateful for the bad things that teach me lessons. This includes taking a hard look at what I do presently and what I want to do differently in the future. Being grateful for even the smallest of changes in my life, whatever they may be, helps build resilience. For instance, when my first relationship after Suzanne died fell apart, I became grateful for the lessons I learned and have truly become a better, more self-actualized human being as a result.

It has made me set the bar higher and higher for my true Self and for my future. Yes, we can choose to examine the primary considerations about what we want and where we want to go in life, but it is only after we question our long-held beliefs and expectations that we can truly start to fundamentally shift our perceptions—of our true self and our life. Gratitude for the steps we take, good and bad, that teach us lessons is a cornerstone to building self-awareness and confidence in the future.

As a coach, I help others learn to manage their expectations and achieve goals they want to set in their lives. It is only in the last few months that I have truly begun to practice what I preach. It has been in part as a direct result of the new relationship I started. It is also a direct result of reading Suzanne’s journals she kept the last few months before she died.

In her journals, Suzanne chose to start each entry with three things that she was grateful for. Invariably, one of those three things was actually me. Which is both comforting and upsetting as I know that she was grateful I was so supportive of her journey—that I kept it together and helped her when she wobbled. She knew I was alone, though. That I had no one to support me and she was scared for me.

The light of my life before it was extinguished by cancer.

Maybe that is why I had struggled to find the gratitude that I needed to be more content with my own Self after she died. It was why I never felt I was “enough” because I wasn’t enough to keep her alive. My self-worth and self-esteem tanked after she died. I tried to “fix” myself by allowing my ego to drive most of my decisions and, in hindsight, that was a disaster.

Now, by practicing gratitude—by being truly grateful for the things I have and the way I am able to live—I am truly beginning to understand why Suzanne had achieved such inner peace, why she had accepted her fate, and went to her death with a grace and dignity I could only hope to have. And I am profoundly grateful for having her teach me that.

What are you grateful for?