There is gratitude enough to fill every day if you choose to look for it. In fact, the act of looking for it can inspire you to find even more ways to be thankful. As it happens, Thanksgiving was this past week and is the inspiration for this blog. What makes Thanksgiving my favorite holiday is that it invites an entire nation to honor gratitude and appreciation. Regardless of anything else I want to count my own blessings. And, just possibly, be a little bird sharing some secrets to a joyful, love filled life.
There is power in gratitude. It opens our heart to life and love. Additionally, it can change our attitude from annoyed to appreciative in less than a minute. Gratitude is an energy force that pushes us past our fears and invites the sweet respite of love to be a part of our experience. Given an opportunity, gratitude can fill our hearts and be a conduit of hope as well as appreciation. And, an open and loving heart can accomplish unexpected magic, healing old wounds and building strong resilience to life’s unexpected twists and turns.
Much has been written about gratitude journals. To be sure there are many different thoughts on whether handwritten gratitudes are more powerful than typewritten. I’ll weigh in here. From my perspective, the purpose of a gratitude journal is to create a habit of a gratitude mindset. What’s most important is that you develop a daily practice over a period of time. Ultimately, this is how you rewire your brain. And, to be clear, the entire point of a gratitude journal is to rewire your brain to a mindset of gratitude. So however you choose to do that, is great. And, after all, it’s how we re-write our narratives.
Re-Wire Your Brain
Since the point is to rewire your brain and create a hard-wired habit of gratitude, writing, typing, mantras, prayers, singing, dancing, doing art, knitting, kneading bread, honestly anything you do with joy, can get you there. Once you create the habit, you can count your blessings in your mind. Personally, I don’t enjoy writing in longhand, my handwriting bugs me. My preference is to write in my gratitude journal on my iPad. I also have a practice of counting out my gratitude on my fingers. So, regardless of the writing, I have a daily practice of noting my gratitude. There is nothing too small for me to notice. And, there have been many dark days, when struggling with some physical or emotional pain, that this habit helped me through. After a particularly hard day, I might be left with: I am grateful for this breath; grateful for this blanket and for this bed; thankful for this hand that can draw this blanket over this head; I am warmed by this cup of tea.
Gratitude is similar to forgiveness, in that it is something we do for ourselves. To lighten our hearts, and to again recognize that “this to shall pass.” And, in the midst of this painful moment, there is a recognition that I can still appreciate the simple beauty of my life.
The Change Is Gradual
There is a shift that happens when we begin noticing all the seemingly small or insignificant things that we can be grateful for. The shift happens as we acknowledge that they are each a blessing. This breath, sunrise, birdsong, flower, or coffee is a joyful experience. These moments are precious. And the ability to notice them, even when we are uncomfortable, is golden. By learning to revel in these small moments, we have access to filling ourselves with daily wonder.
It is amazingly easy to ignore these moments, to glance over them and take them for granted. Feeling gratitude mostly for the big moments, the new job, the new credential, this vacation, or insert your big thing here. Clearly, these big events and experiences are worthy of gratitude. Still, these big moments aren’t necessarily part of our everyday. Which leaves many of us going days, weeks, months, or even years without acknowledging our gratitude.
Take a sheet of paper and see how many moments of gratitude you can capture each day. Typically it’s easier at the end of the day. You can always start with: I am grateful that there is a pretty downloadable gratitude.pdf. But, I digress. 🙂 Try to notice 10 moments of gratitude each day. If you can add more, do it. One of the beautiful qualities of capturing your gratitude is that the more you look,
the more you see.
15 Gratitude Prompts:
- What’s been the most entertaining moment of the week?
- The most beautiful thing my eyes have seen today was?
- I captured this moment of bliss today.
- There was this moment when I saw the humor in a difficult situation.
- I am most grateful to my mind for this quality?
- If my body is my forever home, I most appreciate this about it?
- An important value that I stood up for today was?
- Name someone who made you happy in this past day?
- One moment today, I enjoyed the breeze, or rain, or the sun on my face.
- Some idea I had that made me feel proud of myself today was?
- Something unexpected that delighted me.
- There was a promise I made to myself and kept.
- What is something interesting that I learned this week?
- Name something that you did out of the generosity of your heart, for another person.
- List 5 things you are looking forward to in this next year.
As I was writing this article, one of my favorite clients texted me. She was annoyed and was giving me a heads up prior to our coaching conversation. I told her I was writing about gratitude and asked her what her favorite prompts were. Her response back was a photo she took of the sunset. Then she went on to start listing off the things that she is most grateful for. The sound of her children laughing, spending time with people she loves, having deep conversations with good friends, the songs of birds, watching a deer walk by, a full moon, and the everyday miracles that show up.
Re-Write the Narrative
When we started our session 10 minutes later, she said, “I want you to know, that when you asked me that question, about gratitude, I walked up the hill to take that photo of the sunset and all the way back down I started counting all the things I am grateful for. My attitude is completely different.” We both were in wonder as to how quickly the noticing took away her upset. It was a good reminder that it’s very difficult to hold both anger and gratitude in the same space. When you invite it into your heart, love wins and so do you.
I would LOVE to hear from YOU!
- What are you most grateful for in this moment?
- How has your awareness of what you’re grateful for, surprised you?