Through the years, I have filled page after page of gratitude journals. It is a wonderful practice to keep you gratitude-focused on life’s abundance, but I understand from a practical perspective, it can be hard to stick with. Currently I do not have one that I am using, so I wanted to look at other gratitude options as we near our holiday season.
Where you focus your attention impacts how you experience the world. To help illustrate this, here is an excerpt from life coach and author Martha Beck’s latest blog post:
Try saying the word “red” in your mind repeatedly as you look around a room. Everything red will suddenly pop into your attention. Similarly, when our focus is on gratitude, we suddenly see how much we have to be grateful for. We see the abundance that surrounds and permeates us.
If you do this exercise, you quickly realize how much what you think about affects what you see. Make a commitment to look for the good each day. Life may not be magically transformed overnight, but if you are consciously choosing to see your blessings, you will start to find them.
Before You Drift to Sleep
To help support your gratitude searching efforts, I found this next exercise easy to incorporate into my day. Here it is described in an article by Marianne Powers: Mindful Moments … Ten Fingers of Gratitude.
…, in a brilliant book called Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World, by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, I found another gratitude exercise, called ‘The 10-finger gratitude exercise’. To do the exercise, once a day bring to mind 10 things which you are grateful for, counting them on your fingers. It is important to get to 10 things, even if you have to think about it.
I have found doing this in bed as I am set to fall asleep is a great way to cap off the day. The more I do this practice, the more I am searching for things throughout my day to add to my list. Once you begin, it is almost impossible to stop.
Flip the Script
One of my least favorite household chores is laundry. I find it hard to reach for gratitude when I am folding yet another shirt or sorting countless socks. Instead of focusing on how bored I am over this mundane task, I can change my story about it. Rather than complaining I can give thanks I have clothes to fold at all. I can be grateful I have a home with a washer and dryer. Another task that is new for me this school year and low on my happy-to-do list is driving my boys back and forth from school. Due to traffic and their staggered dismissal times, I spend a lot of time sitting in the car waiting. To flip this story around, I focus on how lucky I am to have kids. I think about how grateful I am they get to go to an amazing school and how the rides to and from school allow for some of our best conversations.
Believe me, there are some days that no matter what I tell myself I end up cranky and overwhelmed. I honor those feelings, too. However, when I am able, my heart is lighter if I remember there is good to be found in life’s unpleasant tasks if I am willing to change my perspective.
Finding and focusing on what matters to us is how we live our best life.
May gratitude find you always and fill your heart with love not just on Thanksgiving, but all the days of every year.
Written by Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent