Sunday, January 03, 2016

Gratitude

I have given up on keeping a gratitude journal about 10 times.  I would try.  Stick with coming up with 3 things I was grateful for every day for a month.  Then I would stop.  It never really made me feel better.  The only thing it accomplished was to check off another ‘should’ from my list.

Honestly keeping a gratitude journal just gave me a reason to feel bad about myself.  I would think:

“Why is it so hard to come up with my three things?’
“How long before I actually feel grateful for this stuff?’
“Why am I so ungrateful for the gifts that God has given me?”
“What’s wrong with me?”
“I am a bad person.”

Okay that is a bit dramatic but I do know that actually trying to keep a gratitude journal and having it fail did make me feel bad.  So I stopped trying years ago.  The issue was that people I respect would say that gratitude is a requirement for living a fulfilled life.  I believed them.  It makes a lot of sense.  It just didn’t work for me.

Fast forward to this fall.  I started trying to pay more intention to my feelings.  Namely, I was trying to figure out exactly what was causing ‘negative’ feelings.  In noticing my feelings, I was surprised to notice that there were a number of things that made me feel good.  At the end of the day, I started writing out some of the most memorable moments of the day.  A number of them were heartwarming.

When I started writing out my good and bad moments, I started feeling better.  I realized that by honoring the small good things, I was practicing gratitude.  The key for me in a practice of gratitude is that it is really a practice of living thoughtfully.  I don’t have to ignore the yucky parts of my day in order to notice the good ones.  In fact creating space to acknowledge the less awesome things in the day gave me freedom to appreciate the good even more.

This is a practice of gratitude that works for me.