It all started rather spontaneously, with a gratitude challenge. I decided to give it a try because I was sick and tired of feeling crappy, helpless & depressed. Life was a struggle and I didn’t have the energy to fight anymore. So when New Year’s rolled around, I set out to write a monthly gratitude blog post. It took me over 6 months to actually do it.
I was resisting, clearly, but in early fall that year I wrote my first gratitude post. That turned out to be the beginning of a change I was so desperately craving.
If you read that first post, I seem to be just another exhausted mother, a rather pessimistic woman tired of her hamster-wheel existence. It is also evident that I judged myself harshly back then, being very critical of my whinny, complaining tendencies and just feeling negative all the time. Back then I thought that if I could only focus on the bright side, I’d snap out of it already.
Oh man, was I naive.
You can’t just snap out of depression; you can’t just erase trauma.
Yet writing these gratitude posts became a habit, slowly morphing into a nightly gratitude journaling. Reflecting on all the good things in the world right before bedtime made me feel good & relaxed. Sleeping better was only the beginning.
Gratitude slowly invaded my daily life. It taught me to slow down, appreciate those simple yet often magic moments we’re too busy or preoccupied to notice. I started to really appreciate how things tasted, smelled, felt. I started to feel more alive, open to the beauty around me. It opened me up to the power of positive thinking and law of attraction (we attract that which we seek, and as I was seeking beauty I now saw it in the smallest things).
Gratitude also exposed me to my faults, specifically my tendency to multitask, perfect and perform. Now that I saw my own contribution to chaos & disconnection in my life, I could change it – by changing specific behavior, approach or attitude.
Empowered, I started making small, meaningful changes that made a huge impact. Instead of multitasking, I started focusing on doing one thing at the time, being fully present to that single experience, whether it was eating breakfast or really listening to my child without any distractions. Instead of perfecting, I started to let go, to stop at good enough, choosing “done” over “perfect”. Instead of performing, I started just being.
It’s not easy & I fall back to my old patterns all the time. But it’s a start and I’m hopeful.
Awareness is a beautiful thing, a necessary precursor to change.
Gratitude taught me to open up to the good in life and made me realize I have more power over my life than I previously imagined. I could stop being a victim of my circumstances and reach out to the joy in living. As it taught me to slow down, listen to my body and have more patience with myself and others, gratitude brought a greater sense of calm, focus, and balance I was lacking before.
It also led me on a path to acceptance & healing. But that’s a story for another time…