One of the many self-care practices I generally implement when going through dark times is a gratitude practice. This can be as simple as keeping a gratitude journal where I write down a list of five things that I am grateful for from the day before I go to bed. It can also be as extensive as using my 101-bead gratitude “necklace” to count off 101 things I’m grateful for from the day.
Often I implement this practice once I’m already down in the midst of the darkness when I’m trying to climb my way back out of the pit. This time I was already using my daily gratitude journal practice before the downward slide even began. It’s interesting to notice the difference.
I’ve been in a funk all week. I’m feeling really discouraged that I just can’t seem to be the person that I want to be. The lack of sunlight this time of year doesn’t help; it tends to make things look even bleaker than they really are when I do get down.
The one thing that has helped keep me from getting overwhelmed by this current bout of discouragement is the laughter that so often fills my days at the office. We manage to find ways to (gently) tease each other and things to laugh about multiple times a day. My gratitude for the chance to work in an environment like this knows no bounds.
Things have been unusually busy this week at work as a number of deadlines are all hitting at roughly the same time. In the midst of the busyness over the last couple of weeks, I’ve found myself letting my daily gratitude journaling slip away. I’m just so tired by the time I fall into bed each night that it feels like a burden instead of a gift to take time for that one extra task.
Despite the lapse in actively writing down the things that I’m grateful each day, I’ve found that I’ve internalized the practice of gratitude enough that I continue to look for and notice things that I’m grateful for throughout the day.
Today marks the end of my month of publicly posting my daily gratitude statuses to Facebook and Twitter. The month has gone by quickly! There are still so many things that I am grateful for that I didn’t get a chance to mention.
Although this is my third year of doing this on Facebook, I still made new discoveries this year about myself and my relationship to gratitude as I observed my progress through this exercise.
In honor of the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday yesterday in the U.S., gratitude seems like an appropriate topic to explore for this week’s link love.
I’ve shared a lot about how powerful the practice of gratitude is in my own life. The truth is that it’s still easy to be grateful when things are going well. It’s harder to maintain a practice of gratitude when things are not going so well. Of course, the true power of gratitude shows up when we use it in the hard times, even when we’re not finding it an easy practice to continue.
This week’s set of links are focused on practicing gratitude in those difficult times in our lives when it doesn’t come quite as naturally to most of us. (Or at least it doesn’t to me.)
“Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of countenance the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” ~Ecclesiastes 7:3-4
We were discussing Biblical Wisdom Literature today in class, which includes the book of Ecclesiastes. In general, this book conveys a rather disillusioned and pessimistic view of the meaning of life, or the lack thereof. It was obvious from the class discussion that many people find this book disturbing, and I have my moments when I’d agree.
I also have plenty of times when I’m grateful for its inclusion in the canon because I find it comforting.
I generally get a minimum of response to things I post on my personal Facebook timeline and on my Facebook business page. In fact, I’ve slowly posted less and less often on both places because it seems like few people are seeing or reading the things I post there. So I’ve been really surprised at the response that this gratitude practice is getting.
I’ve shared quite a bit recently about how great an effect my new gratitude practice is having on my life. I continue to be amazed at how much space this has created for long-needed shifts to happen, how much it has benefited my attitude and outlook, and how much more goodness I am noticing in my life all the time as I pay attention.
Every time I have adopted an intentional gratitude practice into my life, it has had surprisingly large benefits—beyond what would normally be expected for the amount of time and energy it takes. But the ease of doing the practice is probably why it tends to become so easy to take it for granted and gradually slip away from it.
I just spent time talking with my coach about all of the positive changes I’m seeing, and I think I’m finally convinced enough to make this an ongoing practice from now on, though. I am also eager to invite others to try a gratitude practice of their own to try it out for their lives.
“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 have continued my practice of adding one thing each day for which I am proud of myself to my daily gratitude journal. I am amazed not only at what this small practice has done for my confidence and outlook on life, but also at how it has enhanced my overall feeling of gratitude in general.
It did not seem intuitively obvious to me that recognizing myself for things that I have done well should have any impact on my gratitude. In fact, I commented on this last week in a bit of puzzlement and surmised that it stemmed simply from feeling a sense of gratitude to myself for having done something well.