Gratitude. It’s a word we all know and celebrate, particularly in November here in the United States.
But it’s a hard word for me.
It’s not that I’m ungrateful, it’s just that I don’t regularly stop to think about it.
Sometimes, it’s obvious and easy. I’m cold and wet after playing outside in the winter. That hot shower is a-mazing! And I thank everyone who worked to make indoor plumbing with hot water a thing.
But do I think that every morning when I shower? Nope.
Do I thank people who serve me at restaurants and hold doors for me? Yes, every time. But I feel that is more politeness than actual gratitude. Sure, I’m grateful on some superficial level. After all, they carried my food from the kitchen or didn’t let the door slam in my face. But I say thank you out of politeness.
Of course, if I haven’t eaten for 12 hours and the server delivers my food in minutes, I feel gratitude. And if my hands are full and someone goes out of their way to get the door for me, then I feel true gratitude.
Can you feel my struggle?
There are a hundred little things that I could be grateful for each day, but feeling gratitude seems like it has to come from a deeper place, guided by circumstance. And that doesn’t feel like I’m doing it right.
I’ve been beating my head against this for years actually, since I first heard about keeping a gratitude journal from Oprah.
Gratitude: What Really Important People are Saying
“I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.” Oprah Winfrey
“You can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously, so if you want to conquer those [emotions], maybe it’s time to train your nervous system to go into gratitude more naturally.” Tony Robbins
“What we focus on, what we put our attention on really determines how we feel about that particular day or our life in general,” Arianna Huffington
“The power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe? You open the door to all that through gratitude.” Deepak Chopra
Why wouldn’t I want some of that?!?
Gratitude: What I’ve Tried
My journey started out with keeping a journal. I love getting a new journal! It’s possibilities are endless and I attacked this with gusto. I was going to follow Oprah’s model of writing down five things each night that I was grateful for during the day.
That lasted about three weeks. And even those weeks were spotty. Here’s some highlights:
- I could stay in my warm fuzzy fleece pants all day
- I got to enjoy a beautiful sunset on my drive home
- The hand lotion I used smelled really good
- I got to watch two of my favorite TV shows and still make it to bed by 9:30
- My four wheel drive pick up
- The sunny day
- My dog is so damn cute!
Are these bad? No, not really, but they don’t seem like they will open the door to the power, the wisdom and the creativity of the universe either.
Then I tried an every day miracle box. I decoupaged a nice box to sit on my counter, and every day for one year I’d write an every day miracle on a piece of paper and drop it in the box. That sounded like gratitude, right? Here are some of those:
- We got 9 inches of snow and it’s gorgeous; especially since I don’t have to drive in it
- Son helped husband fix sump pump so I didn’t have to
- Chiropractic adjustment
- Completed my OGE450 (a mandatory form for the Government due every year)
- Saw sun after three days of rain
- Septic system is still working
Frankly, most of those don’t sound like miracles and I noticed a lot of them had to do with the weather when I read through them at the end of the year. Definitely don’t seem like I’ll be conquering any fears with them.
Then I went to a digital journal with the app Day One. Didn’t like that as I was doing it right before bed and my entries were very short and cryptic because I was using my phone.
Then I tried using a template by Michael Hyatt. Too long. Who had time for that?
And this year, I tried a DATE template. Each night, in a physical journal, I would write one thing I Discovered, Achieved, was Thankful for and Experienced. Still spotty and the last entry was three weeks ago. I know this, because I opened it to check. Not to write in, mind you, just to check.
Gratitude: What’s Next for Me?
Right now, I think I need to get out of my own head on this.
Take a deep breath and realize that there is no right or wrong.
Today I’m grateful that writing this stream of consciousness down helped me realize that I don’t need to have a visceral response for it to “count”.
That gratitude for holding a door for me out of politeness counts just as much as the gratitude I feel when my arms are full and someone goes out of the way to open the door.
Maybe, on some days, I’m not so grateful that I’m intelligent, love to learn, read too much and then judge myself too harshly.
But I’m still grateful I’m intelligent and love to learn, despite the consequences.
So, where do you stand on gratitude?
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: