What I have learned about gratitude

Gratitude has been tricky for me.

When life is going they way I like, it’s easy to make a list of things I’m grateful for. I used to easily find the positive in situations and offer up a pray of thanks to God.

Cliche: then “life” happened. A lot of “life” happened.

I lost track of gratitude. I lost track of my sense of self-esteem. I lost track of my dreams and goals. I lost myself. I lost connection to friends. I lost connection to family. I lost connection to God.

Everywhere I turned, everything I read said that happiness was directly related to gratitude. From my perspective, I didn’t have anything to be grateful for! How can I possibly be grateful for all the “bad” things that were happening? How was I supposed to be grateful for my unhappiness? It felt like a joke. A lie.

I would start writing in my journal again, including a few things of gratitude, and then it would stop. *sigh* I would slip back into depression. The cycle repeating itself: slipping into that scary place, wallow for awhile, and eventually, start the long fight back out. I started to ask questions: “how can I change things?”

I had been following Mindvalley Academy for awhile, listening to free webinars, downloading free meditations. (I definitely recommend taking a look at their mission – it’s really extraordinary and I’m not being endorsed to say that.) I wanted the lasting, positive changes that I believed were possible but was having difficulties manifesting it for myself. I don’t lie well, and I can’t lie to myself. Just saying words, like affirmations, felt like bullcrap to me. Yet, the quote “happiness is found in gratitude” kept finding it’s way back into my thoughts. I didn’t feel happy. I didn’t feel gratitude, not for big things. Maybe I could for small things.

Recently, I was watching a video by Vishen Lakhiani, founder and CEO of Mindvalley Academy, and he mentioned something he did with his son every night before going to bed. He would ask his son what was ONE thing he was grateful for that day. And second thing he asked his son was what was one thing he loved about himself. I had dismissed it at first, but when I watched an interview between Vishen and Kamil Ravikant, author of “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depended On It,” it came back around to meditating on what we are grateful for about our life and our self. Gratitude raises our positive feelings to a level of love. Love is a happy level of energy to live it. So much so, that living at Love or Above (another of my Mindvalley favorites, Christie Marie Sheldon) you start to positively impact others around you raising their energy. I won’t get into the detail of it here but check out LoveorAbove.com for more information.

Inspiration came in a brilliant solution, an answer to my previous question! I needed support.

I don’t have children to impart this wisdom to, but I have friends and family. So I started contacting friends and family to see if they would be interested in joining me in Daily Gratitude. I knew that if I didn’t create a sense of accountability for myself I would get lost, I would give up. I needed to be connected to friends and family, and what better way than by sharing gratitude. The request was simple.

“I have a favor. I’ve been feeling lonely and disconnected from friends/family and I want to change that. Here’s my favor. EVERY day we text each other one thing we are grateful for THAT DAY. Is that something you can do with me?”

You know what? Only one person ignored my text. Everyone else replied with a resounding “YES!”

You know what else? It HAS been life changing in a small way. I get to know what’s going on in my family and friends lives in a more intimate way. It’s a lot better way to start a conversation than the usual “how are you doing?” Additionally, I get surrounded by gratitude from a village of support I desperately need. It’s a win-win. How do I know? Because I’ve opened the doors to communication, creating trust and safety, where they have told me so.

“I’ve been texting […] daily about things I’m grateful for for 20 days now. In doing so, it’s allowed me to think throughout my day and focus on the positive, empowering and happy moments. It has been a great reminder of how little things can have a huge impact on others lives and my own. Thanks for the awesome idea! Love ya!”

“I am grateful for [you]. Who finds ways to connect with me and wants me in her life. I love you.”

As of today, it has been 33 days. It has become a habit. My day isn’t complete until I send out my text, and I look forward to hearing from others. There is no judgement. There is no chastisement if someone misses a day. Some try to “beat” me to the text. Most reply right after I send mine. There is only one rule: one thing you are grateful for.

I know they are finding more and more things to be grateful for because as I experience my day, I think, what am I going to share today. I also know that it makes a “bad” day less “bad” because finding just that one thing makes it okay. There are still “bad” days, there have been a few days where I feel as though I’m pulling it out of hat, making it up. And that’s okay. It’s a journey upward. I know I am changing my life for the better and I’m bringing a few people along for the ride, I know because I feel happier and I feel grateful.

The question I have for you is: What are you grateful for today?

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