It is well documented that having an attitude of gratitude is an essential component to living a positive life. I completely agree with this and I have experienced the power of choosing gratitude, however difficult it feels at time.
Creating a gratitude practice can be hard especially when you are completely entrenched in the grieving process. Before my husband passed I was aware of the importance of creating a practice of gratitude, although to be honest struggled to keep up with a daily practice. It was kind of like flossing, I knew it was important but I wasn’t suffering because I didn’t do it, so it kind of fell by the wayside. When my husband passed, I found myself in the depths of grief and having (no surprise) some really bad days where I was just existing. This was difficult for me as I have always been a ‘look on the brighter side, PollyAnna Sunshine’ (as my husband used to call me) because I could always find the positive.
This was my biggest challenge now… I was struggling to find the positive. There were bad days, days when I didn’t want to get up and felt like a walking zombie. And these are the days that I realized I NEEDED to work towards finding something positive, the first step was gratitude. So I started a daily (well mostly) practice of gratitude. Each night, I would challenge myself to come up with at least 5 things that I was grateful for that day. Some days it was a big struggle I would think and think and think about things to be grateful for and ended up with simple things like “I am grateful for sunshine”. I also found that some nights I would be repeating some of the same things as I did the night before. But I persevered and tried not to judge myself, the important thing was that I was doing it!
The more I practiced, the easier it got. I started noticing I was incorporating gratitude into my everyday thoughts. I would start to notice and vocally recognize things that were happening that I was grateful for while they were happening. The more I noticed it the more they seemed to appear! It was like when I opened up to gratitude all of a sudden I could see the many things I have to be grateful for. This alone was huge, suddenly my world seemed less dark.
I then started turning the practice towards difficult situations and seeing what I could be grateful for in that situation. Wow, what a difference that makes! What an amazingly powerful change when I could switch my perceptions. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of a situation I was now looking for what I could be grateful for. This change in thinking allowed (and continues to allow) me to weather life’s trials and tribulations a little easier.
I am now at a place where I can see both sides of the coin, I now can say I am so grateful for my experiences, good and bad. For me this such an empowering place to be. I don’t feel like a victim of life’s offerings, my perceptions have changed, I can see there is a bigger picture and I feel that life supports me. I think it’s important to add: Being grateful does not mean that I am happy with every circumstance that happens in my life, there are still crappy things that happen, that I am upset about and I don’t just push these aside, but now I can take a more balanced view of them and instead of seeing just the negative I see how I can be grateful for some aspect of that event.
It’s truly remarkable the transformation that I recognize in my thinking; all from a small practice of listing 5 things to be grateful for each evening! I guess it is like any other skill it just takes practice and repetition to train your brain. And in my opinion this is so worth the effort.
The power of gratitude has been a blessing to me. I encourage you to try this one simple thing and see the world of difference it can make in your life, I would love to hear about it!