Monday, October 5, 2015

Practicing Gratitude

I have not always been a grateful person - I have had seasons in my life when I was discontented, envious, covetous... when nothing satisfied...when it was easier to blame everyone but myself for my own discontent. Gratitude came naturally to me as a child - but as a sulky teen? or as a 20-something struggling single mom? I was not so graceful then in my thoughts and feelings...

Gratitude frees us from discontent, from envy, from all those not-so-nice emotions that hold us back from living life on purpose...

I realized one day while journaling that my feelings of discontent were actually holding me captive, keeping me from appreciating - moment by moment - the life I had, the beauty and grace that was mine if I only cared to notice... 

Practicing gratitude freed me from the slavery of materialism.

I immediately started a :fake it til you make it" practice of daily gratitude. I spent 5 minutes every morning writing out 5 things in my life I was grateful for. Didn't matter who big or small (I was grateful for teabags on day). Every night, I spent 5 minutes writing out 5 things that happened that day that I was grateful for. Sometimes, I really had to stretch - some days this exercise felt really, really stupid and fake - but I persisted. In time, I had a gratitude journal filled with people and places and things and events that I was grateful for. All of this gratitude shifted my attention away from what I did not have to what I did have - and to a deep appreciation for everything and everyone I do have. 
Practicing gratitude made me present in my own life. (Tweet this)
My simple gratitude journal - written in a cheap mini-notebook - taught me something important. IT TAUGHT ME THAT I HAD BEEN COASTING through too many days - not noticing, not being present, not appreciating. After a few months, gratitude became a habit - noticing moments to feel grateful became a natural part of who I am - I started really living on purpose.

Try this - commit to spending just 5 minutes each day writing down what you are grateful for in your life. 

Just until our 31 days are over. Just to see what you learn during this challenge. And then let me know if you found it to be a useful exercise.
How do you practice gratitude?

Join me for tomorrow's challenge: Seeking Beauty