Gratitude is a very popular word these days. You can’t go for very long, it seems, without someone mentioning having, “an attitude of gratitude.”
I had been flirting with a gratitude practice for a long time. I mentioned in my birthday post that I wrote out a list of 100 things for which I am grateful. I also used to try to close my journal entries by writing three things I was grateful for but I didn’t always keep it up.
Last October, I decided that I wanted to establish a daily gratitude practice. A quick google search revealed there are a myriad of different ways to do it. Some people opt for the typical method of writing down what they are grateful and why. Others have come up with unique approaches like snapping a daily photo or shooting a quick video of what they are thankful for and then sharing it on social media. One artist, Lori Portka, expressed her gratitude over a two year period by making 100 paintings to honor people who have impacted her life in a positive way.
Combining your personal creative passion with gratitude is a beautiful daily practice! Since I am a writer… that pretty much brought me right back to where I started BUT with a few helpful changes! I bought an old school composition notebook. (By the way they are still only 99 cents. Isn’t that amazing?) I decided I wanted to keep a separate gratitude book because I like writing freely in my journal. I also wanted a cheap book because I wanted to make sure I wrote daily without trying to save space for truly sterling, eloquent expressions of gratitude. This practice is about being thankful for all things, big and small.
I do have a few rules for my daily gratitude writing. Each day gets one page. I write only about what happened that day. It’s easy to write about a bunch of things you’re perpetually grateful for but the idea is to train my mind to focus on the good I encounter each day.
I noticed during that first month that was exactly what occurred. I think knowing that I was going to do the ritual at the end of the day, kept me aware of good things as they happened. I was then able to pause and relish them, instead of rushing on to whatever bit of business to which I had to attend next.
Take Chauncy, for example, I am always grateful for him! However, this is how it shows up in my gratitude book:
“I am so grateful that I looked back in the window before I got in the car this morning to go to work. Chauncy was on the other side with his paws up on the window seat, watching me go with all the love in the world shining in his little face.”
I catch so many more of these moments when I maintain my notebook. At times, it has almost seemed like more good things were happening. Although, it’s more likely that my shift in awareness allows me to see more of these twinkly moments, that actually happen all the time to everyone.
Now, to be completely honest, I fell off this practice for several months after my dental disappointment in December. It can be hard to feel grateful all the time when you’re heartbroken. While I am always aware I have a lot to be thankful for, knowing it and feeling it aren’t the same. Sometimes, you just can’t force it and need to give yourself a break. I am pleased to report I am easing back into a more regular practice again… and I am grateful for that!