Gratitude is (probably) the most important part of this life. Gratitude is the way we should approach every, single day. It isn't a cliche at all that we only have this moment. Any one of us might die tonight.
In the United States, we often don't think how near death is. But anytime you hop in your car or cross the street, there is the opportunity for death. All it takes is someone driving too fast and not paying attention.
I say this not to be morbid, but rather to be honest, to remember in present rather an hindsight. Two people close to me, right now on this very day, are dealing with illnesses that could impact the number of days they have left. If one of them were to pass, the common reflection would be a changing of attitude so that we appreciate those we love in the moment. But the point is: that moment is right now.
Now, gratitude is so difficult because most days, most years even, most of us are fine. We live. We avoid sickness. We're gainfully employed. But then something breaks. Just one small string in all of it, and then you realize how much you had just a short time before. You wish you would have had the conversation. You wish you would have told someone what you thought of them. You wish.
If you live in the: you wish, you'll miss the opportunity for right now. Right now, you can. You can finish reading this and send a text or message to someone you care about, telling them that. You can greet people with a hug, a smile. You can be less of a dick.
Gratitude, like most things, comes best with practice and habit. It comes by appreciating the small things. I'm writing this (mostly to myself) as a reminder because I am tired right now. The last 1.5 hours of the day felt like at least three. I was in a chaotic school filled with screaming kids and teachers, and that takes a toll on me; I probably had, on average, 8 different kids talking to me at the same time for the last 10-12 minutes of the day; an hour later, my ears still ring. Then I came home and was told that fixing our bathroom would be a minimum of 5K. I don't have that. But I do have right now. Right now I have a choice. I can focus on those things, or I can choose not to be a dick and focus on yesterday. Yesterday, Gratitude fell in my lap.
Actually, this whole week. The particulars aren't what's important, so I'll list the generals: I received a very random email with surprising good news; I received two very nice compliments on my writing; I had dozens of students compliment me, including one entire 1st grade class say, "he's strong"in a way that sounded like I was like the strongest guy they'd seen and made me feel like a boss. But The Cosmos also threw a little gratitude my way. They made it so that I had a very unexpected break at the exact time that one of the people I care about was going into a test. This allowed me to focus my energy and prayer toward that very specific event; and this may not have done a thing for that person, but it did for me.
So what I'm basically telling myself, and thereby ya'll, is that this choice is before us each and every day, with each and every action and interaction that we have. We may select it.