Friday, November 2, 2018

Season of Gratitude

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, we tend to show our gratitude more and more.  Letting ourselves focus throughout November, we create a one a day post of what we are grateful until the end of the month or even a photo a day challenge of what we are grateful for or even find a creative project that we do daily with the theme of gratitude.  Sometimes, we wait until Thanksgiving to unload, around the table, the things we are grateful for.

But what about the rest of the weeks, months...the rest of the year?  Shouldn't we be thinking and sharing about our gratitude more often, even daily?

I have worked on gratitude as a daily practice on and off over the years.  I would write a list of things I was grateful for each night, or write a sentence, or even try to use November to focus on gratitude.  Through it all, I found that when I was consistent I felt uplifted and energized.  However, I also found that when the daily life came into play, it was usually the first thing I would skip.

I recently went through a 7 day Gratitude is my Superpower course with Shawn Fink leading the course.  After going through it and with the start of November, it got me thinking.

Am I grateful, like truly grateful?  Yes, I am.  But do I always talk about it, or write about it, or ask what others are grateful for?, not really.  Do I share about it, think about, recognize it every day?  Honestly, no.

I know I have a lot to be grateful for.  But I also know I could do better acknowledging it.  Even if I don't write about it each day, at least say it out loud or in my head before bed.  Beyond that, I could think on it and acknowledge throughout the day, in the moment sort of thing

You see, in order to cultivate a heart of gratitude one must practice gratitude daily.  For each of us, this may look a little different, but it is something we each can do.

Even in the hardest of hard, those storms we weather, we can still find something grateful.  Yes, it is hard to see sometimes, but there is something there if we focus for a moment, not on the storm, but on gratitude. 

But in those moments opposite the storms, we can show our gratitude as well.

Where it gets lost most often is in those moments in between.  Where everything seems to be just going alright, nothing big happening in either direction...kind of like an even keel.  That is when we tend to let our gratitude fade away.

No matter where we are at, no matter the season, no matter the time of year we can find one thing each day to be grateful for.

So why wait until the first of November, or until Thanksgiving Day?  Why not start now a gratitude practice that you can continue beyond November?

Yes, go ahead and do the creative gratitude projects throughout the year that match up with seasons or holidays or the month.  But just add them into your daily gratitude practice.  So when the season or the holiday or the month ends, your gratitude practice continues.

How do you create a daily gratitude practice?  Keep it simple, keep it visible, keep trying, and start where you are.  Remember, there are going to be days that you miss, but keep coming back to it.  Just like anything new, it takes time and practice to form consistency.

Find a journal.  Find something for you to write in that you like, the feels right to you, that allows you the space you need.  I have a few of those one a day sentence books where you write one happy thing or thought to remember or one thing you are grateful for.  They are great, also an easy way to get started.  For me though, I have found I need more space to write, so I choose journals or notebooks.  Even your phone can be a great place.  I don't know of any apps specifically for gratitude practice, but last night I pulled up a new memo and type a quick list of a few things I was grateful for.

Set up a space to have your journal, even a few pens ready to go.  Make it in your line of sight throughout the day.  It will serve as a reminder to take a pause (even if it's a short one) to jot down a few things.  I have mine on my coffee table and even got gel pens (haven't used them in over 15 years) to go with it, making it more fun and colorful.

Remember, gratitude practice can be done any time, anywhere.  While waiting at a stoplight, out on a walk, during a meal.  When you start opening up your eyes, your heart, your mind you begin to see a different perspective around you and can find joy, gratitude in the little things throughout the day, even amidst the chaos and busy.

You can write a list, you can write a sentence, you can take a picture.  Do it in a way that works for you.  I am finding that I enjoy giving a little more detail.  While at times, a list is what I have time for.  You can even write on a question a day if that is what fits your flow.

Awhile back I found a new perspective on daily gratitude practice.  It came from Dave Ramsey.  His idea was to answer the following questions: Today I am most grateful for..., Today I am most thankful for..., I found delight in/when..., I loved when...

Since finishing the 7 Day Gratitude is my Superpower course I have found a reset in my daily gratitude practice.  It isn't put away in a basket under the coffee table.  I have my journal out and pens ready.  I try to take a pause in the afternoon to write instead of waiting until the kids go to bed.  While sometimes that is when it happens, after they go to bed, I have also found that by the end of the day I am just ready to unwind and it gets lost.  I combine the ideas from both Dave Ramsey and Shawn Fink.  I use the questions Dave suggested and then go into detail the way Shawn suggested.

This is how it works best for me, for now.  Is it possible that it will change?  Of course.  As everything changes, so too will this.  But I am planning on keeping it going in some form, even if I am on a trip (which is usually when I would set it aside completely, then take a bit to come back to it).

Do you have a daily gratitude practice?  Share yours below in the comments. 

Have you thought about starting one?  What is getting in your way of starting?

Have to tried to keep one, but somehow it seems to get set aside more often than not?  What trips you up along the way?

Setting up a strong foundation of gratitude can carry over into every area of your life, as well as those around you.  I encourage you to go beyond November, beyond Thanksgiving to grow and continue your gratitude each day, throughout the day, in your own way.

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