About a month after the shelter-in-place orders began, I decided to wash the family van – by hand. My daughters thought this was a fantastic idea. We gathered the necessary supplies and toted them to the front yard next to the dust laden vehicle. It had been at least a decade since I had hand-washed a vehicle. Now, with the drive-thru car wash closed, a hand scrubbing was necessary. Plus, it would be good for the kids to get outside, learn a new skill and gain an appreciation of caring for our belongings.
The soap formed a cloud of billowing suds over-flowing the bucket as I squirted the in water from the hose. The girls marveled at the million tiny rainbows in the bubbles. I provided some basic instruction: start at the top, get all of the surfaces, wash wheels last. The spray of water from the hose was refreshing in the mid-afternoon heat. My daughters screamed and laughed as they were showered by rinse water. “Why haven’t we done this before, Mom? This is fun. We should wash the car everyday!”
As I dunked the sponge into the suds, I could hear my children talking and laughing. Memories and feelings of washing my first car joined in the experience. I felt the pride of a 16 year old lovingly, gratefully, soaping up a salvaged 1977 Volkswagen Bug. Now, almost 20 years later as a Mom with young children experiencing a global pandemic, my heart was warm with the same gratitude.
During this time of global uncertainty, I felt grateful for a vehicle, a family, a home and the sun-kissing our cheeks. I could have been inside mourning the life and freedoms we had lost, raging at the unseen threat that had changed our lives. Instead, I chose joy. I chose to relish, gratefully in what I had. My day was better for it. My children’s day was brightened and their lives enhanced. Now, 3 months later, we still hand wash the van – because we want to.
By noticing the small things each day that enhance your life, you too can Practice Gratitude. This focus on the good will enhance your days and your life. As a “practice,” gratitude requires attention and repetition. As with learning to ride a bike, learning to practice gratitude will take trial and error. There will be good days and bad. One day, you will notice that the good shows up without trying: it will simply present itself. You may choose to write each item of gratitude or simply notice and acknowledge it. The choice is yours. Try it for three weeks to see what happens.