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Thank You For Helping Me Practice Gratitude and Joy

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Dearest YP Families,

As we hunker down into these frosty days and, I hope, take a well-deserved break, I want to take a moment to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.

I’m incredibly grateful for Yellow Parachute’s caring community of parents, students, and educators, and in these dark winter hours, I’ve been thinking about what gratitude actually means. It’s not about surrendering your right to complain about difficult things, or forcing yourself to play a nervous loop of thank you thank you thank you in your head all day. Gratitude is a pause to recognize the brightness in your life—the joy in everyday moments.

What makes you smile? How do you feel at ease? Who helps make your life meaningful? Or your day lighter and brighter?

I’m a big fan of researcher Brené Brown, and her studies show that daily gratitude practice is a prerequisite for a joyful life. In fact, Brown says that Gratitude fuels Joy. But practicing gratitude feels vulnerable. It forces you to identify the things that you’re afraid to lose, so gratitude is also about staying in the present moment, trying to hold what is good right now, without adding a “but” or “what if.” Practicing the worst-case scenario doesn’t make our misfortunes hurt any less; better (oh so much better) to safeguard your joy and let it be your strength if and when more difficult moments arise.

Gratitude also means letting go of guilt over the good things in your life. Valuing what you have honors what others have lost, or were never granted to begin with. There is so much suffering in our country and our community. When we turn away from our good fortune and make ourselves suffer needlessly, we aren’t helping. When we’re grateful, we’re humbling ourselves; we understand that we earned some of our joy and lucked into the rest, and that all we can do is try to spread it as best we can.

I’m lucky in so many ways: kids, husband, friends, family, food, roof, and more. Yellow Parachute has been an 18-year endeavor to share some of my good fortune, but it has also been the source of so much of my joy.

So to all the Yellow Parachute families past, present, and future, thank you for being one of the many bright, meaningful things in my life. I hope that this holiday season, you’re blessed with many bright, meaningful things in yours.

Wishing You Peace, Joy, and Gratitude,

- Cara

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Wednesday, 29 January 2020