The Practice of Gratefulness
By definition, grateful means “warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received”. It’s a word that wasn’t a regular in my vocabulary until about 2 years ago. But now that it is, I rely on it faithfully. It has provided a lot of contentment. This one word has so much power. In the short term, it can change your mood in an instant. In the long term, if used regularly, it has the power to change your entire perspective.
I was consistently reading about gratefulness or hearing about it in podcasts. I decided I wanted me a piece! Give me some of that goodness, damnit! But how? It couldn’t be as easy as they said. Well, I am here to tell you that it is. My bestie, Autumn, was the first person to give me a gratefulness exercise to practice. When she told me what to do, I thought to myself, “That’s it? Seriously? Oh, I got this shit”.
** Autumn Jones is the biggest breath of fresh air. If you’re into feeling good, check her out at www.autumnjones.net **
She suggested that I sit down in the morning and make a list of 5 things I am grateful for that day. Starting my day out with this list makes the biggest difference—no bullshit. If I wake up to a crappy email or still mad about something from the night before, the minute I sit down to make this list, I can’t help but smile. It makes everything else seem so trivial. Why am I letting a dumb feeling/situation control my mood when I have 5 wonderful things that are going right in my life today? My heart will warm, the dust settles in my mind, and all of a sudden this “bad” situation doesn’t seem so bad.
I know what some of you are saying, “I don’t have time to sit down every morning and make a list. I’m always rushing to leave the house!” I hear that and I got you. On the mornings I am in a mad dash to get out the door, I make the list on my drive. I turn off my radio as I’m driving to my first stop and I say the list out loud. You can even do this with your child/children if you’re driving them to school! It could be a fun and interactive exercise that teaches them about gratefulness at an early age.
Now back to that definition—to the part that says “kindness and benefits received”. Really think about this. Don’t you receive so many kindnesses (It’s a word. I checked 😉) and benefits every single day?? No matter what’s going on in your life, you are receiving benefits to be grateful for every day. They don’t have to be the most apparent. They can easily be things that are overlooked daily. For example, sunshine, food, a morning to sleep in, a sound mind, a car that provides transportation, electricity, a beating heart, money coming in, or clothes to wear. Sometimes showing gratefulness for the less obvious can be that much more rewarding.
Gratefulness is a practice. The more and more you practice it, the easier it becomes. It is second nature for a lot of us to focus on the negative. For me, I know one small thing can happen and it has the power to ruin my entire day. Most of the time, that small thing gets resolved. Then I realize that I spent so much time and energy on an insignificant thing that worked itself out. How ridiculous is that? (Shaking my head) The practice of gratefulness is always focused on the positive. The more time you focus on the positive, the less time you have to focus on the negative. And if you keep focusing that pretty brain on positivity, it will eventually become trained to block out the nasty negative.
Learning and practicing gratefulness has provided me with the following; appreciation for things that are going right in my life, peace of mind that all those things going right outweigh the things that are going wrong, satisfaction with exactly where my life is in this very moment, kindness for myself when I feel overwhelmed or undeserving, more thankful when great things happen, and affection for the life that is MINE.
I challenge you to do one month of this gratefulness exercise. Start soaking up all the wonderful things you have to be grateful for!