A Practice of Gratitude
I had to go out to the grocery store this week because what has become my weekly grocery delivery never showed up last week. I haven’t left my house for any reason for three weeks and there’s a nice safe feeling about that. I’m well and haven’t been exposed so why risk it? But here in LA, they were predicting the worst was going to hit by the weekend, so I had to make that difficult decision, like so many others – do I go now so that I can stay in later when it’s supposed to be worse? I donned mask and gloves and was at the door at 6am, still dark outside with a bright moon overhead. There were only about 5 other people waiting for the doors to open, but my tension was running high. Not about catching the virus, but about how weird everything is. Half the store lights were off, so it was a little dark inside. Hardly any people, but all present in masks and not making eye contact. Lots of food available, but lots of empty shelves. No eggs in the large egg display. I’m not sure what the word is to describe this. Eerie, creepy, depressing, apocalyptic? Okay, perhaps I’ve watched too many disaster movies. But it was uncomfortable and I couldn’t wait to be finished.
As I approached the check-out lane with its new six-foot markers on the floor and a giant shield between me and the checkout person, I thought about how the workers in these stores must feel. Not only are they risking their own health being exposed to hundreds of people a day, but they’re also the recipients of complaints, anger, and even threats, which I unfortunately witnessed on my last outing back in March, from scared people who just aren’t thinking clearly. It’s not the grocery store workers’ fault that there are shortages and inconveniences. I was filled with gratitude for these people. I was certainly disappointed that my grocery delivery never arrived, but whether through home delivery or at the store, without these folks we would be in so much worse condition.
At this strange moment in time, it may feel unreasonable to be asked to cultivate a gratitude practice, but it’s actually something that is not only needed, but will greatly improve our ability to navigate this craziness with our health and our sanity more in tact.
There are so many things I’ve noticed that I took for granted before. Eggs and toilet paper are certainly two of them. The ease with which I could enjoy so many activities more profound. I’m embarrassed to think now about my own complaining about how long the drive took to get to the museum or the beach or the zoo. How many times a week I ran out to stores to pick up whatever I needed. The expectation that I could order anything I wanted in the world and receive it in two days if it was a Prime item on Amazon. The privilege of meeting people in person to discuss business issues or to have friends pop by on their way home from work.
I hope we’re all grateful to the health care professionals working under such stress to try to support those infected and the sacrifices they’re making. And that we’ll all stop and think about the sacrifices so many others are making. I know people who are married to essential workers who are quarantined from their own families for fear of bringing the virus home. Grocery store workers, car service drivers, repair workers, bus drivers, delivery people, cooks and restaurant staff, postal carriers…there are a lot of people exposing themselves every day so that more of us can stay safe. So I am very, very grateful.
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. With gratitude, we acknowledge the goodness in our lives. In the process, we usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside of ourselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
We decided to sit down for an interview with Omar Brownson. Omar is an entrepreneur, civic leader, and public speaker. He is the co-founder and CEO of the gratitude app gthx. Omar is also a leader-in-residence at the software company NationBuilder. gthx has been featured in Goop, Men’s Journal, and the Hollywood Reporter as one of the best ways to tap into the power of gratitude and self-care.
Gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improves our health, helps us deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Sounds like now would be a very good time to practice gratitude.