One thing I can really get behind with gratitude is it does not tell me I have to like anything or think positively about it. Writing a gratitude list doesn’t mean I only write down what I decide is good in my life and be thankful for that. It helps me see the larger picture, that everything that goes on in life, the good, bad, and indifferent is all part of the process. Really, gratitude is not about the events that take place but my attitude towards those events. Am I able to face my fears and look deeply at my flaws with a smile or am I continuously stuffing the way I feel with whatever I can get my hands on? Do I see my life as a blessing or do I believe the universe dealt me a shitty hand and spend my life miserable, constantly complaining about how awful it is?
We have choices. We can choose to be in the light or we can choose to stay stuck in habitual patterns, relationships, or careers that do not serve us because we believe it is easier to stay stuck than run the risk of failing by going after what we truly want. I have been thinking about this a great deal lately. As each year goes by my tolerance for emotional pain becomes less and less. I do not dwell as much in the past as I once did full of regrets because I try each day to live as honestly and authentically as possible. That doesn’t mean it looks pretty all or even some of the time. Often it is messy, painful, and awkward but it has slowly and steadily built an inner strength I never imagined possible.
This all comes down to gratitude. Practicing gratitude is a choice I make each day, sometimes multiple times a day to see my life and all the aspects of it as a gift. The gift might not be what I wanted at the time but in the end I always learn and grow from it. Practicing gratitude has enabled me to see that life is not necessarily some party where I need to feel happy all the time in order to survive. Life is bittersweet and staying grateful helps me to be useful to those around me – to see reality that we are all connected and that when I love myself I love you too.
Take out a pen and paper and write five things you are grateful for. It can be anything. Don’t take too long, just jot down the first five things that come to mind. Do this again tomorrow morning and tomorrow evening. Try this for two weeks morning and night and see what happens. You can always write out more than five if you are inspired to do so. When I started this practice over a decade ago I was not grateful for anything. The concept of gratitude did not make sense to me. It seemed silly and I could not see the point in this exercise. I did it anyway and after a few months of writing daily lists my perceptions began changing, very slowly. I became less negative, more fun to be around for sure, and I was able to begin to open my heart to others. This can be a transformative exercise if you allow yourself to commit to it fully.