A gratitude attitude

Jan 16 / Laura Apolo
It's all well and good to suggest that to be happy we need to have gratitude, and it's not that I disagree (in fact I agree whole-heartedly) but before one goes preaching the obvious, it's important to understand what a gratitude attitude actually is.

Until recently, I'd been strutting around confident that I've maintained and encouraged an attitude of gratitude toward most of what I do. I would have said in all I do but this week I made a startling discovery. I've been far less grateful than I realised and certainly not enough to be preachy about!

At the time of writing, we're just entering our third year of the COVID pandemic and as I look forward to our emergence into the next chapter, I'm taking with me a whole new attitude, this one with genuine gratitude!
You see, one of the side effects of the pandemic is that the worldwide supply chain has been broken. This has meant that people have not been able to access their usual supplies and purchases. Orders for almost everything are being delayed as ports around the world become cramped with goods unable to be processed due to lock-downs and staff shortages. Factories can't get all the components they need to make their goods, and wholesalers can't get access to local transport to get what they do have in stock delivered to the stores. At the moment, when you go into a supermarket or retail store, the shelves have an eerie sense of vacancy that's rather unnerving.

As I perused the skimpy supermarket shelves, I found myself getting annoyed that they were out of my brand of mayonnaise (although there was still several varieties to choose from). It became more annoying when I couldn't get the tuna I wanted either, or the stock cubes! What the..? I had to rethink my whole grocery shop, and it really irritated me. I found myself scowling at passers-by, annoyed at anyone who looked like they were looking for the same items I was.

Without warning, I became guarded, and suddenly found myself compelled to grab as many items as I thought we might need in the coming weeks, just in case they ran out, at least we wouldn't. I honed my focus into a robotic shelf scan from top to bottom, seeking anything that would make my pantry feel fuller.

Before I'd even realised, my trolley was filling up with the staple essentials of rice, flour, sugar, pasta, etc. I stopped to clear my thoughts, so I could assess if there was anything I'd missed. Skimming a hawk eye over the goods in my trolley, I remembered that I only came in to buy milk, mayo, and tuna. What was I doing? Had I lost my mind? We have plenty of staples at home, most of them still from the last stock up I did when I panicked during a lockdown.

I laughed at my irrational reaction, and put most of the items back (except for the chips, you can never have too many chips!)

On the way home, as I reflected on my actions, I got to thinking how incredibly lucky I am. It was in that moment I realised how much I take for granted, and it's a great deal.

For example, here is what I take for granted just in my expectations of a trip to the supermarket. I expect that not only will there be food on the supermarket shelf but that they will also have my brand in the size I want, at the price I want. I expect that there will be plenty for me to choose from in the meat department, especially when I'm not sure what to have for dinner. I expect there to be staff to assist me if I have a question. I expect the fruits and vegetables to be fresh, and to have plenty of options. Until this stage in the pandemic, all of my expectations were met so regularly that I had normalised them. They had become the benchmark, the minimum, and I took them all for granted.

When I went into the supermarket and found the shelves so sparce, it unnerved me. I had taken so much for granted and without much warning, what I'd come to assume would be there had shown signs of disappearing. It unsettled me. Like most people, my first reaction was to do what I could to protect it, by hoarding - by grabbing what I could to cling onto my sense of security.

Fortunately, I recognised my feelings in the midst of my reaction, and was able to step back and see myself, and the situation, differently. I was able to realise that I didn't need to hoard to feel safe. I simply needed to recognise that in assuming my expectations would be met, I also assumed my world would not change. 

The change we're going through is unnerving, mostly because we can't see an end to it yet but also because everything we've taken for granted is shifting. By taking an honest look at what I have, and have access to, I've come to see how priveleged and blessed I am. Not just for my health and a family that loves me (although that too) but also for all the millions of little events that take place around the world that create the good in my life. Like all the people who are involved in catching, packing, sending, and stacking of shelves with my favourite tuna and mayo! As well as all the people who move the stuff, who make the stuff, and who have the courage to invent the stuff that makes my life easier.

From today, my gratitude jumped several levels. Whilst I've always realised we're all connected, it's only been recently that I've recognised just how connected we are.

Thanks to you. Thanks to him, her and them too! 
Created with