This is such a simple practice, and yet it’s so easy to get caught up in life and take everyday gifts for granted. By now, thanks to Oprah’s stamp of approval, everyone knows about the power of keeping a gratitude journal. I first came across this idea almost 20 years ago, when I read the wonderful book Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. In it, she suggests that we begin the daily practice of writing down five things for which we’re grateful, and writes, “You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life.”
I’ve kept a gratitude journal on and off over the years, and it really does completely shift your perspective. My husband and I once went through a really rough financial stretch, during which our old clunker broke down and we couldn’t afford to buy a new one. For almost a year, while we saved to buy a new car, we both had to take public transportation to work. I’m not going to lie: taking the bus wasn’t fun. That was a difficult period in our lives. But I was able to find things about the situation to be grateful for, and it kept me from sliding into victim mode. For instance, I was grateful that we lived on the bus line and didn’t have to walk too far to the stop. I was grateful the bus dropped me off right where I worked. I was grateful I got to read in peace during the ride. Anytime I was lucky enough to get a double seat to myself, or the driver was friendly, or the weather was nice, I sent up a silent thank you. My gratitude practice really helped make a crappy situation bearable.
Today is one of life’s challenging days as well. My kitty Carlos has a hurt leg. He is limping and in pain, and I’m worried about him. I’m writing this post while I’m waiting for it to be time to leave for the vet. But as always, finding things to be grateful for helps me focus on the positive and keeps the anxiety at bay. I’m grateful the vet can see him today, and that I have the money in the bank to pay for it. I’m grateful he’s resting comfortably right now. I’m grateful I work evenings so I didn’t have to call out of work. I’m grateful that in just a couple hours, I’ll know what’s wrong and he’ll be getting treated.
Give it a try. Each evening, write down 3-5 things that you were grateful for that day. Some days it will be easy, and other days you will have to reach. But done consistently, the gratitude practice will help you focus on the abundance in your life, rather than the lack.
How about you, lovely readers? What are you grateful for today?