Several years ago, while we lived in the mountains, we went for many months with no hot water, which, of course, meant no shower. Sadly, showering is part of my morning wake-up routine. At least I had water and a wood stove. As though having traveled back in time a century, each morning I got up at 5:00 am, made a fire in our wood stove, and heated water in a huge pot. Then, I very carefully carried the pot of boiling water to the bathtub, cooled it a little with water from the tap, and “showered” by pouring bowls of water over my head. At 7:00 am, I left for my hour drive to work. It was arduous lifestyle.

At first, I told myself that it was only a temporary situation. But as the days turned into weeks and then into months, I simply accepted it as my reality. It was hard, but at least I had a stove to heat the water. After about nine months of living in the 1800s, I sold our house and moved into an apartment that had hot and cold running water. The first morning we lived in the apartment, after getting an extra hour and a half of sleep, I took my morning shower and was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for hot running water. In that moment, it was the most amazing luxury in the world.

To this day, over a decade later, the first few seconds of a shower fill me with gratitude. Hot running water is such a gift. There will always be people who have more than I do. There will always be people who have much less. When I choose to be grateful for what I do have, it changes how I view other people. When I am grateful, I do not envy those who have more, because I am aware of the luxuries I have. Being grateful makes me appreciative. Being grateful for what I have also creating compassion for those who have less. Tornados, fires, floods, and other disasters rob people of their belongings everyday. Knowing what it is like to go without, creates generosity for others.

A grateful attitude builds resilience, allowing a person to make the most of what they have and provides a foundation on which to build toward a future. Gratitude enhances relationships. People tend to enjoy the company of people who appreciate them. Grateful people tend to have less stress and more joy, leading to happier lives. Make it a habit to begin each day by being grateful for your good fortune.

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