“As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.” ~Terri Guillemets
I truly have so much in my life to be thankful for. The more I am paying attention to these things for which I am grateful, the more things I seem to find that merit gratitude. And the more I find, the more I think of gratitude throughout the day, which leads to noticing even more things for which to be grateful. It’s really a most lovely cycle.
I am still doing my formal gratitude practice every evening—writing down five things from my day for which I am grateful and one thing for which I am proud of myself. It takes only a few minutes each day right before I fall into bed. It often feels like a chore when I’m doing it because it is keeping me awake a few extra moments.
I still sometimes struggle to come up with my five things, and I seldom feel an outpouring of gratitude while I’m writing the list. From that measure, it would seem like my practice is a failure.
On the other hand, I now rather frequently find myself bubbling over with gratitude and joy during the day. (Let me just note that this is not a normal thing for me prior to the start of my gratitude practice. In fact, I was quite often rather negative!)
It’s often little things that bring me such delight: a good bowl of soup, the vivid colors of the fall leaves, the joy of comfortable shoes, the steam rising off a hot cup of tea, a kind email from a friend, the amazing blue of the sky on sunny fall days, melted butter on a hot piece of good bread, fuzzy warm sweaters, shared laughter at a funny situation. Those are the things that I am noticing more and more in the moment and still forgetting so often in my sleepy list-making before bed.
All of those are things that have been there all along; I’m just finally noticing them. But the miracle is that the more I notice them, the more they seem to happen. Some of that is that I am just more aware of these things, so they seem to be happening more, but some of it is a genuine increase in blessings. I am laughing more often. I am getting more kind emails. The soup that was served at work this week was magnificent! I’ve discovered a really good line of bread at the store that has become the highlight of my breakfasts.
And that’s only the little things! In the ten weeks that I’ve been engaging in this practice, the number of “big” things for which to be grateful has just skyrocketed—from unexpected support for starting a new yoga class that I had given up on, to an old friend reaching out to rekindle our friendship, to unexpected gifts from people, to the creative flowering I’ve been experiencing, to help offered by people I know well and people I don’t, to all kinds of coincidences and synchronicities coming together at just the right moment.
It’s miraculous what a simple focus on gratitude can do.
The biggest miracle of all for me is the way it has changed my relationship to the things that still go wrong in my life. (No, life is not perfect!) Things that at one time would have sent me into emotional tailspins are now just noted, processed, and I keep going.
In fact, I’m rather sad this evening after learning about the death of someone I knew. It’s a really tragic situation, and I grieve for her family. It is also very, very similar to what happened four years ago when my best friend Vicki died, and this reminder coming at the same time of year increases my sadness over the loss of her friendship too. The difference, though, is that while I am sad, I am still keeping it all in perspective. I still believe that life is good and that I am blessed to be alive, even in this moment when I am so sad.
That shift in my reaction and perception is a bigger miracle than if I simply never had anything bad happen to me again. It means that I am being transformed by this practice and by the other practices that are growing up around this one. It means that long-time patterns are being shifted to healthier options. It means that this is not a surface change; it goes deep into my soul. It means that I am being made new, and that, my friends, is a miracle indeed.
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