I don’t know about you, but I’m a “list person.” Chalk it up to the Virgo in me, I do love making lists and also checking them off. I’m sure it gives me a sense of completion and “control” and honestly, it clears my ever churning brain from all my “to do’s” and creative ideas. So, when my wonderful teacher, Ashley Neese suggested I start a daily “Gratitude” practice, listing off all that I was grateful for, I was on it!
Now, we hear about “gratitude lists” left and right, so, until I began the practice, I thought the magnitude of change and positivity it was built up to bring was somewhat bullshit. I put it off for a while and finally, after such desperation to shift the constant negative ticker tape rolling round in my head, I sat down with my journal and gave it a try.
Blank. Nada. Tried again.
That’s what came to me. I was somewhat paralyzed, and what did come to my head, felt fake. I took several deep breaths and began connecting with my heart and body. When we write a gratitude list without enlisting the body and heart we only intellectualize the gratefulness and don’t fully receive it, mind, body and soul.
As I began to tap into my full being, of course the first thing that popped up was my husband. Hey, that felt authentic. Then, warm clothes (it was January), Eddie’s childlike excitement of being in the desert with the kids and me, all of us together, playing in the snow. There was my gratitude for my meditation practice, my connection with spirit, my stepson’s kindness and even the recognition of some ancient pain that my awareness had yet to expand to include, until now. Whew, that wasn’t so difficult once I started the ball rolling.
I was astounded at the shift of energy within me as I went on about my day. I began to think, “Hey, maybe this gratitude list thing really works,” so I continued with it daily. I made it a part of my evening ritual. Before heading to bed, I scan back over my day and write down all the goodness.
It’s incredible how my mind use to, and still does sometimes latch on to everything negative about my day. I hang on tightly to my mistakes, my insecurities, my disappointments, like a kid hanging onto their favorite security blanket. We have all been so trained to focus on the negative that focusing on anything but seems venerable, unsafe and unreal. Though, writing an evening gratitude list has helped me to refocus and begin to retrain my brain to look for the good in everyone and everything. I don’t get lost in the darkness as often anymore and drift off to sleep in a peaceful, loving state. A few other ways I cultivate gratitude throughout the day are by saying a prayer of thanks in the morning, first thing when I wake up, to get the gratitude juices flowing. I also use the list writing practice during the day if I’m needing to shift my energy. It’s so easy to get caught up in our daily craziness and end up spinning out of control by midday, especially if it feels like everything has gone wrong since our feet hit the floor. Gratitude, I have learned is a one of our greatest life changing, energy shifters! It’s a direct line to the divine.
Do you have a gratitude practice? If not, are you willing to try writing your first list and see how it feels for you? Can you find gratitude in even your most difficult relationships and experiences?
My SD always asks for each persons “pits & peaks” of the day. For quite a while, I would share both but than it hit me one time that the pits weren’t necessary to focus on at the end of the day. So it’s only about the positive peaks now. I like the idea of graditude list (journal). Going to add to my to-do list!
I love this and fully intend to start this TODAY!
i keep a gratitude journal too – it really helps
Thank you for sharing!! Such a wonderful idea!!
I love this post and the real way you express yourself. I always say a prayer of thanks in the morning first thing. I love lists! I do find gratitude in EVERY situation and if I have trouble finding the gratitude in negative situations I write a list of why I am having difficulties with said situation. That eventually leads to self reflection and eventually gratitude if that makes sense.
Sounds like a great idea especially for a person with depression.
Thanks, LeAnn for sharing 🙂
I didn’t have a gratitude practice for a long time ,only in little ways I would acknowledge it. THEN some whirlwind times came up out of nowhere (such is life!) and after that whole era calmed down after a few years, only then I could truly feel what it means to have gratitude. From first thing in the morning,throughout the day,evening and night constant calm,gratefulness,alert consciousness without feeling distracted or negative.
Had it not been for the extremely bad times,it would have been impossible to differentiate between the two. I hate to say it but it is necessary in the grand scheme of things to have *some* brutally bad times. THEN When everything’s going well in life you absolutely have to take stock of how lucky ,privileged and blessed you truly are. And THAT gives way to endless gratitude
I started doing this 18 months ago Leann. A friend told me I should write down each day something I’m thankful/grateful for. It does actually work we so often just focus on the negative things that happen in our lives. I started firstly by doing a negative and positive list and was suprised to find that the positive list was much longer than the negative one. We have so much to be grateful for that we take it for granted. Once you start to focus on the positive you do feel more happy, more at peace with yourself and it changes your whole outlook on life. For the better. And Pat yes it is a great thing for someone with depression to do x
Thanks Leann Im grateful for you too xx
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