The tough times keep getting tougher, rougher, and more challenging. This past year, all our best intentions have been applied, discarded, salvaged, and rebirthed in a somewhat muted, less enthusiastic form. We survived 2020, but still have a rough year ahead. What’s a person to do?

Befriending Gratitude

I’ve been struck by the practices two of my friends have employed throughout the pandemic. They are deliberate, thoughtful, allowing for growth and a ‘soft landing’. In other words, if the intention of the practices don’t work one day, the recovery time is fast and forgiving and the next day, they begin again.

My friend Liz posts on Instagram most days. She features photographs that focus on the positive and hopeful. These are often pieces of art, gifts of nature found in small hints of glory, the hope and joy a tree filled with lights can bring. All small moments captured with a lens of a positive outlook.

Seeing those throughout the week reminds me that there are always pieces of our world, simple and clear, to be appreciated. The posts also remind me of who Liz is and the importance of emulating her example. She is deliberately choosing those moments, wandering in search of beauty, whimsy, and humor. That is Liz; ever mindful, ever selecting the higher path.

Other pals shine through in their own ways with upbeat comments, humor, wisdom, and plain, down to earth inner strength. But each friend chooses gratitude in one form or another rather than what isn’t working in their lives right now.

It’s the Practice, Not the Form, That Counts

We all have ways we remind ourselves to be grateful despite the inclination to dwell on the horrible. We don’t even need an Instagram or Twitter account, a gratitude journal or sticky notes. Yes, those tools help, but the primary spark for expression of appreciation of all the good things that surround us can be friends like Liz; people who are deliberate in what they choose to focus on.

The Framing of Grace

I have another friend who has been coping with a devastating cancer throughout the horrendous unfolding of the pandemic. The appreciation she expresses about the basic ‘givens’ of life that most of us are forgetting these days is, in the truest sense of the word, awesome.

She has continually reminded me what a gift good health is, how a friendship can grow deeper with the magnifier of being truly cherished, and how inspirational it is to see a warrior fight her battle with dignity and courage. She exemplifies grace in its truest form.

Finding Grace

As a result of my friend’s example, I have found myself reflecting upon how I can bring more grace into my life when I first awaken, remember what is happening in the world, and brace myself for the day.

I am trying to build more of an awareness of the gentleness of forgiveness, the courage of taking the high road, and how complicated choices can be uncomplicated when surrounded by the good will that a sense of grace can bring.

I have a long, long way to go in this particular journey. Luckily, have been inspired to consider my friend’s example and register how truly pure and sacred that grace, in all its forms, can be.

Recognizing the Champions

We all have acquaintances like Liz and my dear friend with cancer – people who set the bar, lead the way, and inspire us. We can, during this new year, choose to emulate their inspirational practices and express appreciation for their example of how to choose grace and gratitude in the darkest of times.

It’s actually a lovely exercise to look around, recognize those who have mastered the two G’s, and thank those practitioners for leading the way.

We will make it through this darkness, but it behooves us to pay attention to those who always hold the light within.

Who among your friends and acquaintances teaches you about gratitude and grace? What is their example of the two G’s? How are they helping you grow and learn to appreciate the small things in life? Please share in the comments below.

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