I'm coming to learn that I'm really bad with gratitude practices. It's not that I'm not grateful, I just haven't found the right way to work a proper gratitude practice into my daily routine.
are many reasons to work with a gratitude practice. It helps you focus
on all the good and wonderful things in your life: all the things you
are grateful for! By spending time and energy thinking about these
things, you are calling more of them into your life. The more time you
spend thinking about something, the more your subconscious mind
understands that these are the things that are important to you, and
these are the things it should be helping you work towards.
can definitely use more of the things I am grateful for in my life, but
more importantly for me, the more time I am spending thinking about
things I love and want more of in my life, the less time I am spending
obsessing about bad things happening. This is something I really
struggle with, if my mind is going to wander, most times it goes to
worst case scenario options. Breaking free from those thought trains
can be a huge struggle for me.
A gratitude practice
can also help wake you up, and this is also something that would be
very helpful for me. Sometimes, it feels like my days are just running
together, that I do the same thing over and over. It feels monotonous,
and tedious and I can get into a place where I just want to crawl back
into bed and forget about everything. Stopping and making myself think
about, articulate and list things that are in my life (not just things I
wish were in my life...) and why they make me happy or grateful can
help lift me out of that feeling that nothing matters.
also find that thinking about doing things I enjoy is infectious! If I
think about a great author I love, I want to read their books. If I
think about a great show that always moves me, I want to go watch it.
If I think about games that are super fun, I want to go play them. It
gives me a direction, a focus, and a desire to get up and actually go do
things (that bring me joy).
Two years ago, I did a
gratitude sharing project on Facebook. Every week, for a year, I posted
a topic, something for people to share something they were grateful
for. It was a fantastic experience, and I have many fond memories that
grew out of it. There is something very powerful in sharing our
There are a couple of things that seem
to stop me from keeping up with a gratitude practice, but the main one
is timing. I haven't found the right time for me to work on gratitude.
I've seen a lot of suggestions for both starting your day and ending it
with gratitude. I have this beautiful journal I set aside for
gratitude, so that I could write all the things I was grateful for in
it, and read back through it when I needed a lift. And I had every
intention of writing three things in it every night.
out every night just doesn't work for me. I am, by nature, a night
owl, but I am also sometimes just mentally done by the time dinner rolls
around. So most nights, my evenings are spent doing easy, relaxing
things. And even though I know I require eight hours of sleep, I don't
really want to go to bed when it's time, so having things I feel I need
to do before bed, just makes bedtime feel even earlier!
aren't really great for me either. I'm definitely not a morning
person, and when I first wake up, I rarely want to do things. Which is
highly ironic, because the earlier I do things, the more productive I
am! If I put things off until after lunch, there is a pretty decent
chance they won't get done. But, trying to be in the right mindset for
gratitude when I first wake (or morning pages of any kind), hasn't even
been something I've attempted.
I also know a lot of
people do their gratitude as part of their prayers or meditations. This
is actually something I haven't tried, and I'm not really sure why
not. I tend to tack a lot of things onto my morning and evening
practice (which revolves around meditation), and this might be something
I need to seriously look into. The only downside I see is that I kind
of really like having a physical record of my gratitude.
of which, even though I have the fancy, lovely journal, I also started
gratitude pages in my calendar this year, since I'm doing a whole fancy
bullet journal inspired thing. Every month, when I do my monthly
divination and add in the monthly calendar page and list my tasks for
the month, I also draw up a gratitude page. They aren't super fancy,
just a crayon sketch, something themed for the month or season, with
enough spaces to jot down a gratitude for every day of the month.
back through my book, I was pretty good for the first six months this
year. I know that I missed some days in there, but when I did, I went
back in and filled in the blanks by the end of the month. Then, I just
sort of fell completely off the wagon. Though there aren't any months
with no gratitudes written, these final six months tend to have only a
couple of entries.
This goes back to not being good at
doing things in the evening, which is when I was typically adding my
daily gratitude. I started off checking in with my calendar before bed,
ticking off anything I had done but not marked off yet, and adding my
gratitude. But I think because I am not going to actually do anything
else when I get to my final check, I have just been avoiding it. As
much as I love seeing the little boxes ticked off, when they aren't, it
makes me feel a little guilty (especially if I know I was just messing
around all day, not legitimately busy with other things).
recently read another blog, that gave a little twist on the standard
gratitude practice. (You can read the full post here:
My Morning Ritual)
What I found really neat about this is she takes the struggles and
challenges in life and turns them into things to be grateful for! This
is a sentiment I have always loved, and have sort of based my life on.
am who I am, not because of the many blessings in my life (though of
course those have impacted who I am), but because of the obstacles I
have overcome. I measure myself in growth and stubbornness, not in
things I'm innately good at. When I think about the bits of myself that
I am most proud of, it is the ones I have worked so very hard to
achieve, not the things that have fallen into my lap.
think it is important to look at both sides of gratitude! To
appreciate and honor the things we have received, the gifts we are born
with and the fortune that finds us and surprises us with bounty
unexpected. But I also think it is important to recognize and be
thankful for every rock that his tripped us...and forced us to pick
ourselves back up. For the pain that drove us to become stronger. For
the tears we cried, and the times our heart broke, and the way that
those experiences made us appreciate each breath we take. For those we
have lost and the memories we retain of them.
It is so
very easy to take our lives for granted. Sometimes, we muddle through,
not really even awake to what is going on around us. We may find
ourselves shocked into awareness by some great change, whether it is a
boon or a bane. Finding our gratitude, looking for what we have gained
and what we have lost and how that impacts our lives, that is what makes
us truly alive.
I think we can all gain from
spending some time working with the concept of gratitude. We are
approaching, what for many Americans, is the season of giving thanks.
And yet, for many, this means may not mean more saying what we are
thankful for, right before dinner, one night a year. We may not even
really think about what we are saying, we may speak the words and not
really let them move us. But we should be moved, for our lives are
fabulous things, in all their glitter and grime and glory.
in this time of thanks, let us truly uncover what we are grateful for.
Let us learn to see the gratitude in every day, and to express that in
ways that build us up when we are low. Let us bind together, and share
what we are grateful for, so that the people who touch our lives know
how dearly we hold them to us. Let us whisper our thanks at night, to
the stars and the moon and the divinity both within and without, for all
the things that we aren't yet ready to give thanks for out loud. But
let your heart be thankful, let your mind embrace the gratitude, and
claim the blessings of your life.