Tuesday, November 15, 2011

About that Thankfulness Thing...

It's never been easy for me to practice gratitude.  I'm not sure if I'm a "glass half empty" sort of person, but even when I recognize that my glass may in fact be half full, I've never really been one to express my thankfulness about that.  It sort of just is.

That doesn't mean I don't say thank you regularly.  From check-out girl at the grocery store to friends who buy me concert tickets when they know I'm completely broke, I will definitely tell them how awesome I think they are.  But I feel like those are the really obvious times, the times its easy to understand that you should be grateful, that you should recognize that the universe is being kind and that this person is making your life that much better or easier.  That you should say thank you out loud for their help, their support, their generosity, and for just not being an asshole when that may actually have been simpler.

So for those times, I've got it.  Grateful.  Check.

But it's more about the everyday, the mundane things that happen, the small, quiet times that slide in between those chaotic moments in my life.  That's when it's so much more likely that I'll brush over them, not even seeing them for what they are.  I'm talking about the way my favorite jeans fit me, the way I feel so much more light-hearted after talking to a friend (even when we were just making small talk), the way my mom's voice makes a bad day more manageable instantaneously, the way losing myself in a good book (even when it's a cheesy romance novel) for the entire day is sometimes the best feeling ever, or the way texting my sisters makes me feel connected to them -- and my family, and myself -- when we're all so far apart, and the way Nate will wake up at 5:30am to go and watch me run a race in the cold and the wet.

These are the things I'm rarely openly grateful for, even when they're the things that make my life that much richer.  I don't know why this is or when I became things way.  I think it's the emotion, and the embarrassment emotion sometimes causes me.  Is that weird?  To shy away from emotion so much?  To feel awkward expressing love and gratitude?  To not even know I should be feeling love and gratitude?  Stratejoy has this great journaling program called Joy Juice, which sends you a journal prompt every few days that encourages self-reflection and growth.  At the end of each month, there will be a prompt which asks you to think about what you're grateful for about your day, your life, yourself.  This has traditionally been the prompt I've skipped because I either couldn't think of anything, didn't want to think of anything, or just didn't want to delve into the reasons why.

But I've come to see how important this is, and how it not only betters my life and gives me a much more positive outlook on things, but it also has the power to better the lives of those I express my gratitude to.  After all, wouldn't it make you feel better to know that you're appreciated, that something you did made someones day brighter?  Except that I'm not sure I'm ready yet to openly say all the time how thankful I am for every little thing.  Years of tempering those feelings is a hard habit to break.  So, baby steps, right?  I think it's enough that I'm starting to take note.  Then I'll go from there. 

I downloaded a daily journal app for my iPhone and have been using it to jot down just a line or two at the end of each day about what I'm grateful for.  So far, it's been a great addition.

 Do you practice gratitude regularly?

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