I write a gratitude list almost every day & have been doing this for a few years. I am a gratitude master, or at least on my way. While thankfulness comes rather quickly to me now, this routine started as a way to train myself out of a dark night and completely toxic thinking. I was desperate to see the blessings in very difficult times because I was going through many. My thoughts went dark rather quickly and I was sick of my own company. I was suicidal and scared. It was undeniable to me that what we focus on grows. I had been seeing "what's wrong" and drowning in that reality. After hearing, probably for the hundredth time, the power of gratitude and our own thoughts, I decided to try something different however fraudulent it felt. I had to if I wanted another chance at life. I was so inundated with the despair of my circumstances that I continued to feed the cycle of illness through unchecked thoughts. Something had to give & it was up to me to change the course I was on. Life wasn't doing anything to me, it was actually doing everything for me. I just couldn't see it through the fog of pessimism and fatigue.
In a challenge and last ditch effort to snap out of sickness, created not by what was happening in my relationships and life but by my own thinking, I started saying thank you. Consciously. This practice has been a lifeline, a saving grace, a source of connectivity and inspiration for myself and many others. Even when it seems there is lack, and life proves it with the grief of change and unexpected turns of events, there is always something to choose gratitude for. In focusing on abundance, I receive more of it. Thoughts shape perspective which in turn shapes choices and behavior. I do no simply think gratitude, I embody it.
The lists I write are free form notes, often times bullet pointed and sometimes even poetic. They chart the course of my life through snapshots of experience. They reflect the gains and losses, the heart grins and bruises alike. With gratitude I mark my journey and dive into the richness of this one life I have been given. Complacency and blame were stealing my peace. Now Gratitude restores it. Life continues and feelings are varied; I experience sorrow and disappointment, yet they do not take me over like they once did. In choosing gratitude and committing to the practice on a daily basis, I have become accustomed to be on the lookout for blessings and gifts hidden in the most unlikely places. I find what I look for, every time. Knowing I will write this list keeps my radar up throughout the day. I slow down and soak in the joy, sometimes so quiet it is barely noticed, in the details some might call mundane. Smelling roses, pausing to breathe deep and smile, the texture of the tree trunk, his smile, her courageous trust, family, lessons that continue to teach me about love, hugs, kind words, the feeling of cool water against my warm neck, a strong body, an able mind, the grace of surrender and forgiveness. The lists go on because life brings endless opportunity to see, hear, feel, touch, sense, taste and wonder.
Gratitude connects us to the world, to the people around us, to ourselves. It is the lifeline that taught and continues to teach me what truly matters. It is my reminder to remember. I send these lists to others, to share myself, to practice vulnerability, to potentially bless another by inviting them to see from their own eyes of gratitude. This practice, this ritual, this soulful tradition, is simple and so profound. My relationship with myself, with stranger and family alike, have and continue to be infused with meaning because of my intolerance of pessimism. I was sick and tired of my sick and tired thinking; playing victim to life didn't change my course. Gratitude did.
What might become possible on the other side of your gratitude? The doors that thankfulness unlock are the keepers of real magic. Has your life been changed by the statement "thank you?" I know mine has. Start a chain reaction of blessed connection and choose your view. Gratitude is a choice winners make. It might not be easy at first, but what is that's worth living toward? Overcome the temptation to see the shadow of the glass that's half empty. Don't you see the abundance in what's half full?
Options for becoming a gratitude master:
- create a note on your phone and make a list of what brings
a smile to your face today
- call one person and tell them why you appreciate them
- look in the mirror and speak love and honor into your own reflection
- commit to saying thank you whenever possible
- complete this statement when something challenging meets you: "if this were a gift in disguise, it would be bringing me..."
- when someone asks "how are you?" answer grateful or blessed; whether you consciously believe it or not you will start to if you choose to pave that path
Gratitude wins. Every time.
Leverage the theme of today, Thanksgiving here in the United States,
and turn your gaze in the direction of thanks. It might not be easy, I promise it will be worth it. Fight the temptation to complain and engage the real magic of your world.
Your future self and everyone around you is thanking you for it already.
With Unending Gratitude,
As an advocate of Reinvention + Recovery, I work with clients to achieve balance, alignment and purpose in all areas