"Living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace.....There is (a way to) open ourselves to grace. And it often starts with taking a moment to be grateful for this day, for being alive, for anything."
Arianna Huffington, Thrive
I have tried various times to keep a gratitude log or journal, but have never stuck with it for very long. After reading Arianna's book, I decided to commit to the daily practice. Rather than emailing three of my friends, I decided to write gratitude posts each day and share them with my Facebook community. I started the practice on June 17, committing to post daily through the end of July.
Thankfully there were not many, but I did encounter a few days that I didn't want to post. Maybe I was tired or low on energy on that particular day. Or maybe something happened that dampened my mood and it felt daunting to search for a positive. On those days, I encouraged myself to find something, no matter how small, to be grateful for. And I did discover that following through with the post did indeed lift my spirits and improve my mood. I am grateful that I only experienced a few of these days; on most days, summarizing my blessings was an easy task.
July 31 was the 45th and final day of openly sharing my gratitude list. I reviewed my daily posts and reflected on the sources of joy in my life. I am overwhelmed by how I have to be grateful for. During the 45 days I expressed gratitude for a variety of things, people, and experiences.
- productive days
- free community yoga and hot yoga; morning runs, made even better with a friend
- summer, sunshine and sunsets, warmth, a nice breeze
- air conditioning for those stifling hot days
- books and time to read
- enjoying a glass of wine
- relaxing and even allowing myself to nap when I need it (I am not a napper!); slower paced days when I need them
- decluttering my physical spaces
- making healthier and more environment friendly choices (recycling plastic food storage containers and switching to glass)
- my daughter, mommy/daughter days, observing the joy she experiences in the simplest of activities
- experiencing Vacation Bible School with my daughter while serving as a volunteer
- quality family time and summer fun (bike rides, pool time, parks, a picnic, fireworks, wonderful music)
- time with friends, girls nights out
- reconnecting with relatives at a family reunion
- great conversations, connecting with people that I just met, reconnecting with others I hadn't seen in awhile; being inspired by the people I connect with
- the women in the mastermind group I joined this year
- the organizations doing good things in our community (such as Dress for Success), and being able to contribute my time and talents to them
- the women business owners who are making a difference in my life (my coach, my professional organizer, and my chiropractor)
- my coaching clients and their commitment to the process
- the flexibility that comes with being my own boss and being able to spend extra *and guilt free* time with my daughter when I want to; being able to work outside on a nice day and the motivation to not let that distract me
- setting the vision, mission, and priorities for my business that align to my core values
- the learning and growth I'm experiencing personally and professionally (increasing my patience, pushing my creative boundaries, trusting myself and letting go of the need to over-plan and over-prepare for everything, finding comfort in my own skin)
- reflecting on my successes and feeling overwhelming gratitude for the possibilities that are opening up to me
I expressed gratitude for the little things in life that I often take for granted. I am grateful for small moments that pack a big punch. There were two days that I experienced negative events but was able to look at the positive side of the situation and express gratitude for that. For example, I got stung by a wasp. It hurt like heck. I was truly grateful, however, that only one wasp stung me. There were others buzzing around; I inadvertently sprayed their nest with a garden hose and was probably very fortunate that I didn't get multiple stings. In a July post, I shared this fitting quote: "When it rains look for rainbows. When it's dark look for stars." (as seen on Twitter, @FivebyFive_13)
I was grateful for unexpected surprises such as running into someone that I hadn't seen for a long time. On July 16, I posted about this surprise: "Out on my run today...I passed a man who was walking along, listening to his headphones. After I ran by him, I heard him very confidently, very boldly, (and very beautifully, I might add), singing the worship songs he was listening to on his headphones. Thank you, kind sir, for adding to an already great morning."
As I reviewed and reflected on my 45 days of gratitude, I noticed three major themes among the posts:
- being grateful for my self-care practices that help me be a more centered, grounded person
- being aware of and grateful for the learning, growth, and opportunities I'm experiencing in my personal and professional life
- being grateful for the people in my life. I didn't count the number, but I would guess that at least half of my posts expressed gratitude for people. Family. Friends. Individuals and organizations who are making a difference in our community. People who are inspiring me and making a real difference in my life. Without people, my life would not be what it is today.
I am so glad that I followed through on this commitment. What a humbling experience to reflect on the sheer number and quantity of blessings in my life. I am also incredibly grateful for everyone who liked or commented on my daily posts. I thank you for your engagement and support as I expressed my gratitude and I am truly grateful for having you in my life.
This is the quote I shared on the first day of my practice, and it feels appropriate to share it again now.
"It is not joy that makes us grateful. It is gratitude that makes us joyful." David Steindl-Rast
My heart overflows with joy.
Do you have a gratitude practice? What observations have you made from yours? What are you grateful for right now - in this moment? What brings you joy?
This blog was originally published on www.yourdailyarc.com before changing the name of my business