When you think of the idea of gratitude, do you consider it to be an emotion or an action? We can certainly feel grateful, so that definitely puts it into the emotion category for me, but we can also give thanks, making it an action too. I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately, especially the ways in which feeling it can so drastically improve our lives for the better. There’s been an entire gratitude movement happening for a while now. We’re told that we should write down 3 things that we’re grateful for each day in a journal if we want to improve our lives, our careers, our personalities, our relationships, and our health. We’ll become more optimistic, less materialistic, more spiritual, more friendly, and more relaxed. Don’t get me wrong here; I’m not scoffing at any of this. I believe in it, but I’m just curious about the process behind it.
My curiosity made me consider what it is that I feel when I’m truly grateful, when I have one of those moments when someone does something surprisingly wonderful for me. It’s a kind of a floaty, fluttery feeling in the region of my heart that makes me feel overwhelmed for a minute. And I immediately want to act on it. I want to wrap the person up in a hug and try to convey how much I appreciate what they’ve done for me. And I’ll keep thinking about that moment for the rest of the day, and people will wonder what I’m smiling about. It’s actually a little bit like love, especially in the beginning, when you can’t stop thinking about someone you’ve met, or you realize that you have a new, incredible friend in your life, or you can’t wait to get home to see your puppy, or you can’t get enough of the smell of your newborn’s head. Those are the same type of floaty, fluttery moments that fill us with absolute joy. When you make this comparison, it’s not difficult at all to see why gratitude at this level would bring so many positive things into our lives.
But what about the less than spectacular gestures that people do for us that occur each and every day. They don’t feel quite as wonderful. We still express thanks, but we don’t gush, and sometimes we say it automatically without even making eye contact, without even really thinking about it. Again, it’s a lot like love, right? We’ve known this person for forever now, so we don’t spend every moment thinking about them. Our friends are steady, reliable, and still wonderful, but we’ve begun to regard them as constants so the feeling of having them no longer joyfully surprises us. Our new puppy eats our shoes, shreds the mail, or wreaks some other havoc in our lives, and the newborn has turned into the toddler or teenager that tests and tries our patience on a daily basis. The love is still there, but it sits below the surface, rather than bubbling up and making itself impossible not to notice. If we carry the comparison back to gratitude for smaller day-to-day gestures, we’re still thankful for them, but we’re not as mindful that we are, and so we let many moments pass without even realizing it.
I think the answer lies in the fact that life isn’t just comprised of big moments. We don’t find love every day, nor do we make wonderful new friends. We certainly don’t get a new puppy, or have a baby on a daily basis. People don’t do things for us every day that hit us squarely in the chest, or make us cry and say “Wow, you did this for me?” That’s just life. But just like we have to remember to appreciate the people in our lives, especially those that have been around since forever, and we have to remember that our 10-year-old dog loves us just as much as that puppy did, and that toddler or teenager is still that newborn just with different sizing and packaging, we have to learn to be mindfully aware of the everyday opportunities to be grateful. How wonderful would it be to feel all fluttery and floaty every time someone hands us our daily coffee at the diner, or Starbucks, or Dunkin’ Donuts? Some people might think we’re crazy, but who cares about them? We’ll be walking around smiling and they won’t know why. I want to give it a try. Who’s with me?
For today’s cocktail, I did some research on which herbs and flowers mean gratitude and appreciation and I discovered that they are none other than jasmine and parsley. Okay then, I knew I could work with those and so I made a simple syrup using fresh parsley and jasmine tea. Yesterday I made a trip up to North Jersey to visit a distillery called Claremont that makes an amazingly smooth potato vodka, a moonshine whiskey, and will soon be releasing a bourbon as well. I used Claremont vodka as my base spirit because I loved its texture, purity, and taste and I knew it would provide the perfect backdrop for the parsley and jasmine flavors. For the bridge ingredient, I decided to go with a wonderful blend of sake and yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit that is a like a combination of Mandarin orange, Meyer lemon, and Key lime. It’s fantastic! The flavors came together in a very delicate way, which was exactly what I was after. We need a gentle nudge every day to remember to notice all there is to be grateful for, even in the smallest of gestures from relative strangers. And, most importantly, we have to act on the gratitude we feel. Let it bubble up, let it make you smile, and let it be seen. Happy Friday everyone! I’m so grateful for all of you!
With Deepest Thanks
Add all the ingredients to the bottom half of a shaker tin. Add your ice and shake for 20-30 seconds until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express thanks. Enjoy!
*Check out Claremont’s website for local availability.
**Combine a half cup of sugar with a half cup of boiling water and stir until clear. Pour into a Mason jar and add a good handful of parsley sprigs and a jasmine tea bag. Allow to steep until cool.