We’ve all heard about the power of gratitude. Oprah played a big role in popularizing the idea of a Gratitude Journal – a place where you could review the day and, instead of thinking of what should have been done, we focus on what we are grateful for. It’s a simple act, and yet it can be one of the more difficult tasks we embrace. There have certainly been many evenings when my list has had to include things like: breathing, sunlight, that my dishwasher works, that I even have a dishwasher, etc. etc.
And by no means is this an exercise I perform every evening. Some evenings, it’s more than enough for me to remember to just say “thank you” to the Universe, and whoever else may be listening. But is that enough? I’ve spoken with so many people who see a behavior like keeping a Gratitude Journal as an opportunity for self-criticism. As in: “I want to do that, but I’m so bad at it – it just becomes another thing on my list.” Something that’s meant to give us a moment of peace and serenity as we wind down to sleep has, at times, become a mechanism for shame and guilt. It was never meant to be that way.
I’ve been there. I have purchased so many blank journals of every shape, color and size at every store I can think of in order to keep my Gratitude Journal. And I have failed. Or have I? Being grateful is at the forefront of my mind off and on throughout the day. Even now, as I sit here typing this, I am feeling grateful for the ability to write and for the readers who are interested in what I have to say: you. Does that mean that if I don’t write down five things each and every night that I am some sort of failure? Absolutely not. But it has taken me a while to get to this acceptance and realization. Being aware was the first step. Forgiving myself for being so cruel and critical towards myself was the second step, and accepting my choices and behaviors and being grateful for them is the third step.
So – now I can sit here, looking around at my new office, and feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all that I have. I am grateful that I paused long enough to realize and acknowledge my many blessings. And I am grateful for the wisdom I have acquired along the way that has allowed me to forgive myself for my hyper-critical moments. Finally, I am grateful for knowing that this is a journey, and not a destination. And I am grateful for the people in my life who remind me of these things. And if, before I fall asleep at night, I am able to remember to say a simple “thank you” for my life, that’s more than enough – because throughout the day, I am recording entries in my own Gratitude Journal in my mind. And they still have the same effect, even if they’re not written down in a pretty book on a daily basis.
With that said, I extend to you my gratitude for being with me on this journey. I am grateful for you, and I thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts, wisdom and experiences with you.
This week, there is only one THing: Being Grateful. Experiencing gratitude permeates all three levels of the mind, body and spirit. So, take a moment to consider starting a Gratitude Journal, knowing that there is no expectation of how often or when you write in it; or just take a moment right now, to breathe and pause – reflecting on any (or all) of the blessings in your life. Sometimes, it’s as simple as being grateful for the wind, air conditioning or even Haagen Dazs! Whatever gives you a moment of peace, think of it and allow the emotions to wash over you. Your breath will slow down and the corners of your mouth might even turn up. Experience it, and simply say “thank you” – to yourself, the Universe, your family, friends, whomever. For a grateful heart is always full.
In love and light,