A simple gratitude ritual can change the course of your day. But knowing about gratitude does not guarantee that you will experience the difference it makes. Gratitude is something we nurture and strengthen with daily activities. At its most empowering, it is a state we create for ourselves independent of our surroundings. In this state you can recognize that which you don’t yet have by giving thanks, in advance, for receiving it
This week I have restarted a morning gratitude practice with a daily list of 20 things that I’m grateful for. Some days the list nearly writes itself with many grateful thoughts top-of-mind. On other days, especially when things aren’t going the way I plan, it takes some effort to complete. As a fallback on those days, I may simply add gratitude for toothpaste to my list. In my experience, those are the days when this practice has the greatest impact. No matter what ends up on the list I’m training my mind to face toward gratitude no matter how I feel.
Maybe you’ve noticed a curious thing about gratitude. Do you want to be grateful only for the good things? Maybe superstitiously believing that gratitude for unwanted experiences will invite more of them?
Today I noticed that my list also included some of my less preferred experiences. Things that I wanted to avoid at the time. Yet because of these things, I have had opportunities to grow, and alter my thinking in ways that empowered and improved me. As I connected the dots in the rear-view-mirror I was grateful for the changes these experiences caused.
You might wonder if being grateful for these chances to grow invites similar events in the future?
We can never know the outcome of an experience, but a gratitude practice will prepare you with an open heart and greater capacity to handle the unwanted or unexpected events that always come. It helps build the kind of mental strength that Amy Morin talks about in her TedX talk, Secrets of Becoming Mentally Strong. Being grateful for experiences helps us be present in each moment, rather than worrying about the future as a strategy to prevent a repeat of the past.
Today I invite you to notice just one thing that you don’t prefer and add it to your list simply because it is allowing you to grow. Please share your thoughts and experiences about gratitude.