So excited to be visiting today. Nate is one of my favorite people on earth. The Hubs and I are both enthusiastic supporters of The Loveumentary and Unbox Love.
So, when Nate asked me to write about gratitude my very first thought was, “Of course! Gratitude is my rocket fuel.”
Gratitude for me isn’t just a feeling, it’s an activity that I engage in daily.
I am pretty sure that I first got the notion that gratitude was something you could practice, like guitar, from watching Oprah. She was interviewing Sarah Ban-Breathnach, the author of a book called Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joy
and they talked about the idea of creating a gratitude journal.
I had never heard of such a thing at the time but I have had a general rule since about high school, that if it’s good enough for Oprah, and doesn’t require a billion dollars to do, it is most certainly good enough for me to try.
Oprah bought T-shirt sheets, I got t-shirt sheets. Oprah had frozen hot chocolate while visiting New York city, I had frozen hot chocolate the next time I went.
And so on.
So when she said to pull out a journal and write 3 things you were grateful for that day, I tried it.
There are worse things a teenager could experiment with, I am sure.
The idea behind the journal was that the more you notice and appreciate things and experiences you are grateful for, the more of those good things and experiences come into your life.
Kind of like the law of attraction, gratitude edition.
The thing is even though I am a writer, I am absolutely terrible at keeping any kind of journal for any prolonged period of time.
Truly, truly terrible.
So I didn’t keep that up (sorry Oprah!). But, I did create my own gratitude tradition that I absolutely love and was totally inspired by Ms. O.
Every year sometime during the Thanksgiving holidays I take some time alone and write down 100 things I am grateful for.
It is positively amazing how many details you notice about life when you have set a goal to get to 100. After your immediate loved ones and lofty things like health and safety, you start noticing how grateful you are for things like:
- Paved roads
- Cold Stone Creamery Birthday Cake Re-mix Ice cream
- Shellac Manicures
- Every single one of your favorite TV shows
- Your husband’s smile when you go on vacation
- Your best friend’s laugh
- Kit Kats (especially British ones – the chocolate is mixed differently).
- Blogs. Friends. Laptops. Coffee.
And so it goes, until you get to 100.
Every time I make my list I notice how much of life there is to love.
There is so much and there is a seemingly infinite amount of tiny things that bring me huge amounts of joy.
I absolutely love the feeling I get when I notice and appreciate so many blessings.
But I am absolutely terrible at writing them down every day, so I decided I’d make gratitude lists whenever. In my head, but like all the time.
What I do is whenever I am paused at a red light, standing in line, or at any other random moment that feels good, I say, “Name 5 things you are grateful for, go!”
Best game ever, right?
The most random things come up.
Right now it would be
- The gourmet chocolate candy bar that had pieces of potato chip in it (tasted like Crunch but saltier)
- Really comfortable shoes
- My bed. (I haven’t slept in it in a couple of days and can’t wait to see my pillow again).
- The sound of my hubby breathing when he is sleeping.
- Caffeine Free Coke Zero
See? Absolutely the most random things ever. And yet, I smile just thinking about them.
I savor the beauty and wonder and power of life.
And I don’t wait to write in a journal.
I do it now.
What I have found over the years is that like guitar, you get better at gratitude with practice. It comes easier, becomes more natural and shifts your mood quicker the more you do it. It’s kind of like taking a vitamin for your heart and mind.
Practicing gratitude is important to me because it helps me remember all the good in my life, especially when I am going through something bad.
In my opinion, the highest, most advanced level of gratitude you could practice, is being able to feel gratitude for your problems.
I totally love feeling gratitude for my blessings. Easy right? Still important to stop and actually DO IT – whether you write it, sing it, say it in your head or post it on Facebook.
But feeling gratitude for my problems – that has been probably the biggest mind shift ever.
Here is how I do it:
Years ago I attended a training called the Landmark Forum. Some parts of it I loved, some parts of it I really didn’t care for at all. But my favorite lesson I learned there was when one of the workshop leaders said something to the effect of:
We all want our problems to go away.
Problems do not go away.
Rich people have problems. Single people have problems. Married people have problems. People who have what you think you want all have problems.
The key to problems is not to eliminate them.
The key is to continuously upgrade the quality of your problems.
Upgrade the quality of my problems?!?! That idea just blew me away. I really pondered and took that into my gratitude-filled mind where it came out as:
” Well, that’s a great problem to have.”
Example, sometimes I feel overwhelmed – career, marriage, family, friends – all good things, right? And yet, sometimes I am not sure how I am going to get it all done.
And I think, “well, that’s a great problem to have.” I think of the alternative – what if all of those things that are making me so busy, were suddenly missing from my life. Whoa. Instant perspective shift.
Instant gratitude adjustment.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have problems and definitely doesn’t mean I have them all covered.
It also doesn’t mean that some problems don’t flat out suck. Really bad stuff happens and I don’t want to minimize that, but the only way I know how to get through those really dark moments is to search for the glimpses of light inside them.
Gratitude helps me do that.
I hope it helps you too.
Now that we have established that gratitude is a practice – it’s your turn. Name 5 totally random, completely wonderful things you are grateful for right now – do it in the comments and we will all say thank you together.