Developing Gratitude

By Vicki Hughes             Posted August 13, 2013

Gratitude will change you. It will also change your circumstances. It’s really quite magical. It reminds me of taking a photography class in Junior High School. I took a photography class when I was about thirteen. Part of our job in the class was to take photographs to be used in the yearbook.

This was back in the pre-digital age, so we used a 35mm camera, with black and white film since our school couldn’t afford the equipment to develop color film. Besides, black and white is cooler and more artsy. Just ask Instagram.

When we finished a roll of film, we would take it into the closet in the school library that was our designated darkroom. We would take the film out of it’s tiny metal cylinder and treat it with a development solution. Then we would look at the negatives, and put them on a contraption that would allow us to fire the negative onto a sheet of white photo paper. That paper was pricey, so we had to really be sure it was a picture worth developing.

Then we’d bathe the photo in a development solution, and watch for the picture to begin to appear. Magic. The trick is to allow it to develop, but not over-develop. It takes some practice, some skill, and a good eye. if you do it very much, you start to fall in love with the process. Digital cameras are cool, and allow you to do things you’ll never do with a 35mm camera. For pure joy, printing a photo off of your computer will never hold a candle to developing one in a darkroom.

Which brings me back to gratitude. When we begin to tune in to things we are thankful for, and especially if we take the time to jot them down, to capture them, it’s like snapping a picture with a 35mm camera. We’ve caught the moment, and it’s stored there, Later, we get to come back and take a peek, as if we were examining a long strip of negatives, looking for what was there, what was really amazing.

Recording your gratitude, much like taking photos, will surprise you at times. You may capture things in the background, that turn out to be more important than what you were originally focused on. You thought you were focused on being grateful for a new job, but six years later, you look back at that moment and realize it was where you met your best friend. That was in the shot, but you couldn’t see it until it developed.

Gratitude, much like the process of developing film and pictures, reveals things with a bit of a time delay. I love that word, developing. We are smack dab in the midst of a world that is forgetting how development works, growing accustomed to the instantaneous. But development is crucial to that which can stand the test of time. Value and longevity and quality are not available to be zapped in the microwave, or dropped in a toaster. Things that develop over time have staying power. And so, the continued practice of gratitude has proven to me.

Four years into my personal mission to focus daily on what I am thankful for, by noticing, and writing it down, things have developed. More importantly, I have developed. I have developed the capacity to notice and appreciate the things that are right in my life, in the midst of what is not. I appreciate the opportunities, which helps me step over the adversity. I can bolster my own spirits with the written reminders of all that I have been blessed with so far, which reminds me there’s more good stuff waiting just out of sight, but on it’s way.

I have watched my gratitude move people around me to appreciate their own blessings, big and small. I have seen my finances respond to my thankful attitude, as well as my physical well being, and relationships with people. I have watched as gratitude has propped open doors of creativity, and as new opportunities have shown up at my door, wagging their tails.

So today, I am thankful for all that being grateful has taught me so far. And now, if you will excuse me, I need my gratitude journal.

© Vicki Hughes 2013

8 thoughts on “Developing Gratitude

  1. Sarena

    Vicki this is the best ever entry, in fact I forwarded it to my sisters, nieces, Anna and audra. Not sure if they were following your blog but I wanted to share this one for sure!! And THANK YOU because you have opened my eyes to living a life of thankfulness and gratitude and I am truly thankful for your inspiration and of course your blog and FB page Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be thankful!! Enjoy your day!!

    Reply
  2. Jan Hicks

    you are so right…enjoy reading your blogs – very insightful, thanks for reminding us what is really important, I think through every day life, we get bogged down with the dailies that we don’t look at what was important until it is gone…

    Reply
  3. Scott Carson Ausburn

    Just like film ,friendships take time to develop it’s the little things that add up to strong friendships.Navy friendships are stronger than any civilian friendship can ever be.You work,play and sleep on a small island called a ship so you get close as you have no where to go.You become grateful for the teamwork and acknowledge that your life is in your shipmates hands.Even after more than 40 years we all still know that we have each others backs ; )

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