Finding it hard to be grateful?

04 April 2017 - inspiration

Gratitude isn’t always easy to practise. Some days are more difficult than others because it seems like everything is going wrong at once. Your feelings of disappointment, sadness and weariness are valid—and know that you’re not alone in feeling that way. But as we observe what we are thinking and feeling, we have the power to choose one thought or feeling over another.

Gratitude isn’t about telling yourself that the good things in your life can override the bad (though it’s nice if it feels that way sometimes). It’s about appreciating life as it is, even the smallest things. It’s about knowing that you don’t really need more than you already have, which includes being grateful for yourself; knowing that you are enough as you were, are and will be.

Once described as “an indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known aspects”, Mary Oliver (b. 1935) is one of the most beloved poets of our time. She beautifully captures the subtle beauty of living by focusing on the quiet occurrences of nature and life, even in difficult times.

We share two poems: Wild Geese, one of her most beloved poems, and The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac, which recalls her grief, hope and gratitude during her battle with cancer. If you’re finding it difficult to be grateful for something right now, we hope you find encouragement in her words.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.
So why not get started immediately.
I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.
And to write music or poems about.
Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.
You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be as urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

What are the poems that have made a difference in your life? We’d love to hear about them at