The Alchemy of Gratitude

Reading Time: 3 minutes

thank you and flowers

Recently I went away for five weeks. I travelled interstate and stayed with four different households. This was meant to be a rejuvenating, revitalising holiday away from the freezing Tassie winter.

Instead, I was thrown unexpectedly and unpleasantly so far out of my comfort zone that within days I was desperate to be home.

It was my first major trip away having to juggle food intolerances, and since I wasn’t able to keep to my usual diet, I started to feel unwell. My sleep was disrupted and I became progressively exhausted. My daily meditation routine fell in a heap. Then I landed in an wi-fi desert and my backup dongle failed, so the only internet access was a thirty minute bike or bus trip away. Because I rely on wi-fi to keep tabs on my online editing business, this had the potential to be rather difficult! On top of this my iPhone expired, and I contracted a nasty cold which messed up a week’s social planning. At times I felt helpless, scared, isolated, snotty and miserable.

What a litany of woes!

Enter gratitude.

It never fails to astonish me how a few minutes’ gratitude practise can transform my experience. I find it even more powerful than my daily meditation ritual, and since I was meditating erratically during my trip, gratitude came to the fore.

I got out a tiny notebook one evening and began to write down everything I was grateful for since I’d left home.

By the end of this exercise I felt completely different. I felt warmed, grateful and much, much calmer. My external circumstances hadn’t changed a whit, but my mindset had.

I realised that despite the difficulties, I had so much to be thankful for. That my hosts considerately did their best to accommodate a gluten-free guest; that they offered me warm and comfortable beds; that they didn’t mind my absconding for an hour in the afternoon to catch a few zeds. That when two editing jobs came up I was staying with a family whose wi-fi worked, so I could complete the commissions easily and quickly. I was grateful for the wonderful heat, a bike to ride, swims in beautiful pools, tropical sunsets on the beach, the scent of frangipanis, companionship, conversations, renewing old connections and revisiting familiar places. I was grateful for missing my loved ones at home and for their messages and phone calls.

My iPhone revived after a day and I was grateful that I didn’t have to buy a new one. And when I felt most feverish and achey I told myself how lucky I was to be with friends who’d make me cups of tea, and that I didn’t have any vital commitments to fulfil.

So it was a wonderful holiday. Not stress-free, but filled with countless large and small delights.

Now I’m grateful to be home, despite the freezing Tassie weather – grateful for emerging spring blossoms, squeaky guinea pigs, friends, neighbours, family and my loving partner Pete. There’s a vase of brilliant yellow daffodils on the table and a flickering rainbow candle delighting my sense as I write. I’m warm. I’m comfy. I’m fed. I’m clothed. I’m loved.

Life is good. If you’re not convinced, try the alchemy of gratitude.

Merridy Pugh

Merridy Pugh is an editor and writer based in Hobart. She loves books, sun and tropical fish.

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