Gratitude is an area where I have fallen short recently. I was talking to a friend the other day. We were both in a bit of a funk and neither one of us was speaking words to lift ourselves or each other up.
As I reflected on the conversation, which left me feeling even more deflated than when we began, it hit me! I heard Annie saying, “Girlfriend! You’re feeling so crappy because when was the last time you practiced gratitude?” Um… Ow! I don’t remember.
I express gratitude here and there when I am gifted with seeing a bird in the little birdbath we set up in our yard. I express gratitude when a cool breeze blows past me and it’s 107 degrees outside. I express gratitude when I’m gazing upon a beautiful Flamenco dancer in a red dress on the stage.
But, when I thought about it, I couldn't recall the last time I had taken time to sit for a few minutes and “count my blessings.”
For me personally, I think it’s important to be grateful in the moment. But lately, I’ve forgotten the value of setting aside time to focus specifically on gratitude. When I spend time being grateful, I usually find that I feel generally happier and more content. Gratitude takes my mind off negative things in my life, such as how hot it is or that nagging pain in my left shoulder and causes me to notice all the good and wonderful things around me. I mean seriously, I live in southern Spain, what’s not to be grateful for?
I’ll share a secret with you. Practicing gratitude isn’t necessarily easy. I guess that’s why some people call it “practice.” Most of my life, I’d get in bed and try to “talk to God.” But I could never seem to complete a whole gratitude session. My mind would go all over the place! I’d think of something I was grateful for and the next thing I know, I’m thinking about all kinds of things except what I’m grateful for.
Maybe that’s not a secret. Maybe you have the same experience. I always imagined God understood. I imagined Him looking down at me, shaking His head and wondering, “What in the World have I created?” I’ve heard God has a sense of humor.
I've always felt guilty about this but no matter how hard I tried to focus, I always ended up somewhere else in my mind.
Finally, I had an idea. Why not write about all that I am grateful for? I had heard of the idea of a gratitude journal, so I decided to give it a try. That actually worked for me. Writing down what I’m grateful for kept me from becoming distracted. Something else I noticed is that when I wrote down these things it caused me to FEEL more grateful about them. Somehow, putting pen to paper created a connection that ran deeper than simply thinking about things. That was an unexpected bonus!
Since Annie reminded me last week about gratitude, the idea seems to be popping up everywhere. The very next day in the book I mentioned last week, The Tools, the whole chapter was about gratitude. I’ve seen it on my Facebook page and in the book A Course in Miracles. I love it when the Universe gives me a little nudge in the direction I need to go, even better when I hear the message and listen.
No matter your belief system, God, the Universe, a higher Power, or nothing at all, gratitude in any form will create a chain reaction of positivity in your life. I invite you to create or cultivate a practice of gratitude. If you already practice gratitude consistently, I’d love to hear what works best for you. Perhaps your practice can help me, or others develop their own practice.
With Love and Gratitude,