Goodbye Grumblings

Find the good

Fight grumbling with gratitude

This week, in my quest to find the good, I’m looking at gratitude as a tool to defend against Grumblings. I keep a gratitude journal, off and on. When I use it, I do so right before I take my glasses off for sleep. I find it helps me go to sleep in a positive frame of mind, which just feels better than drifting off while feeling cranky. I’ve done that often enough, and I don’t recommend it.

Maybe I’m a late learner. As I approach the age of 50, I’m finally understanding that I don’t have to be at the mercy of every thought that comes along. Instead of following the less-than-helpful thoughts, I can choose to direct my attention where I want it to go. So I’m cultivating gratitude as a habit.


Pussy willows, one of my favourite signs of spring

Gratitude is good for us

There’s a lot of information out there about how good for us gratitude is. Try a search, and you’ll have more than enough reading material to keep you going for awhile. But it seems like such an easy-to-apply good thing, something we should all try to do, that I’m happy to add to the clutter! I recently read a post by Eric Barker in which he gathers up a bunch of research on gratitude. One of the powerful habits he mentions that can boost happiness is writing down three things that went well during the day, along with why they went well.

It seems that gratitude is one of those magical things that make almost everything better. Practising gratitude has physical, psychological and social benefits, according to a variety of studies. And, no need to worry if writing about or talking about what we’re grateful for seems awkward at first. We can learn gratitude! When we practise gratitude, we change our brains for the better, and it just gets easier and easier, with longer-lasting good effects.

Gratitude beats the dragon

More concretely, gratitude can help me with my specific goal. I can focus on only one thing at a time. If I’m focusing on what I’m grateful for, I won’t be able to focus on the sly whisperings of Grumblings. If I’m consciously thinking of good things, the dragon won’t have an opening and may slink away for awhile. This is an instant and useful defense. Into the bag of holding it goes!

Three things I’m grateful for

To show just how easy it is, let me tell you about three things I’m grateful for at this moment, all related to spring.

  1. Pussy willows. I have some cut branches at work and at home, and I can’t help brushing my winter-dry fingers over the catkins every now and then. (Bonus thing-I’m-grateful-for number 1: I learned the word “catkin” today!) They seem too soft to be real. I planted the pussy willow shrub a few years ago just so I could have my own supply every spring. Once the leaves come, the thing is nondescript, but I’m happy to let it thrive knowing that every spring my yard will have “soft grey fur flowers” just like in Margaret Wise Brown’s Pussy Willow, a story I read over and over with Thing One and Thing Two. (Bonus thing-I’m-grateful-for number 2: Remembering story time with the kids!) Maybe the neighbourhood rabbits are grateful as well — the shrub is certainly feeding something, based on the nibbled-off low branches.
  2. The first flowers. I’m talking about the ones I think of as foolish optimists, that show up when it’s really too early and they’re in danger of being snowed on. Yet somehow, they survive. Last weekend, I spotted some crocuses growing in the dead grass and mud. There was even a slow-moving bee that had managed to find them.
  3. Extra daylight. We wake up in daylight and get home in daylight. Somehow, there’s more energy in the day. People are venturing out at home, at work. We start chatting with neighbours again, and the sidewalks fill up with people. Even the restaurant patios are set up, though you might need a big sweater for a couple of weeks yet. Kids on bikes appear, and parents pushing strollers. The parks are populated again.

Crocuses and a bee, two good things in one

I love the variety of seasons we get here in Ottawa. I’m fickle: the point of change between each season is my favourite, until the next change of seasons. But spring is special, and I truly am looking forward — gratefully — to getting dirt under my fingernails, remembering the names and locations of my perennials, and discovering new volunteers.

Back to this week’s good. I did a quick search to see if I could find a place where people post their own stories of gratitude. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did come across (Bonus thing-I’m-grateful-for number 3: The internet!) The video stories are beautiful and inspiring, and I look forward to spending more time there. Enjoy!

Leave a comment or send an email to susan at if you have stories or websites to share (particularly if you know of a website where people share their own gratitude stories). Have you been up to some good lately? What are you grateful for today?


About GrumblingSusan

Word lover. Story addict. Daydreamer. Optimist. Ottawan. Treehugger. Scouter.

2 Replies

  1. I especially love hearing your voice. It comes through so clearly in every “Bonus thing-I’m-grateful-for”!
    Personally, I’m grateful for the time I got in my garden this weekend. I worked hard enough that I moved very slowly and painfully afterward; but I saw all kinds of signs of life, and it felt great to make visible accomplishments, something that doesn’t happen much in my day-to-day work.
    Thanks for this. I’m off to bed, but first I’ll try this picking-up-a-pen thing.

    1. GrumblingSusan

      Thank you! Sounds like a productive weekend of uncovering treasures for you. And you’ll get to enjoy the benefits of your labour all summer! (-:

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