You’re anxious. You’re sad. You feel alone. It’s never been this bad before. This beautiful world is suddenly dark, chaotic, and scary.
Maybe it’s not true for everyone, but a whole bunch of us feel this way.
This post is for everybody, especially the overwhelmed.
I’d like to gently say that you are not alone. I’ve been feeling the bad stuff too. Those old foes of anxiety and depression seem lurk around every corner, waiting to devour me.
But be encouraged. There is help for us both, a spark of light in the darkness. I found it (or rediscovered it), this past week.
The thing that may get you through this and possibly even turn your life around is the practice of gratitude.
Countless books have been written on this subject, so I could just go on and on, but I will try to stick to the basics.
Here are 3 things you need to know.
- This is not about guilt.
When you saw the title of this post, you probably had a thought that went something like this: “Yes, I should be more grateful.” This is likely connected to something that was told to you when you were a child. Maybe a minister quoted scripture about thankfulness or perhaps your mother told you to clean your plate because children in other parts of the world were starving. This is NOT that. You will never, ever hear me suggest that you take on an idea or practice because it falls under a set of predetermined rules, religious or otherwise.
If you’re like me, you probably carry around enough things to feel bad about; you don’t need more from me.
What I do, instead, is offer up my own experiences, in the hope that they may help you.
- Practicing gratitude is actually very easy.
I spent the last week installing a habit of thankfulness. Going into this, I expected that I should be focused and determined to make it happen. Surprisingly, it was really easy. After a few days, my soul just wanted more. I would remind myself to be thankful, then I began to look forward to my gratitude time, and soon I just did it all day long.
I’ll tell you the details of my particular practice in a moment, but for now, just know that this is probably the easiest spiritual practice to begin.
- It works!
Being thankful as a daily habit will simply make you happier. That’s a big promise, I know, but I stand by it.
I could use this space, right now, to tell you how it works. I could explain the law of attraction and the pull of positive energies, but I’m trying not to write a book, so let’s just try this:
When you feel lucky and blessed, something magical happens. Your soul expands. You begin to not only notice your blessings (which you have been ignoring), but more good things will start showing up. The things that you are thankful for will act like magnets, pulling in similar blessings. Like attracts like.
- Being thankful creates good feelings
- Good feelings foster a better attitude
- Positive attitude opens the mind
- An open mind sees more choices
- More choices means less stress
- Less stress means more happiness and more to be thankful for
This principle works on anything; happiness, health, even money. When your outlook changes, everything else changes too.
Here’s how I started my gratitude practice this last week:
I sat down each day (at least once), and wrote down something for which I was very thankful. I wrote it on a little slip of colorful paper and just sat with it, holding onto this idea for several moments.
The very first one went like this:
“I am thankful for clean water.”
I don’t know where that came from, but the more I sat with that idea, the bigger it got. How different would my life be if I had no clean water? I am lucky and blessed in that I can go jump in a hot shower right now if I want. I am healthy and energetic because the clean water I drink helps to digest my food and to clear out toxins.
Soon I began to feel my soul expanding. This feeling can not be understated. In this moment of gratitude, it feels like every thing is open for me.
I went from feeling so-so, going through just another day, to feeling joyous. All it took was a few minutes of thinking about water!
Eventually, I’d fold the little paper and drop it into a jar. Then I would write another one and allow the same process to repeat. Every day I’d add more slips to the jar. After three days, I would pause during the day to make lists of things to add to the jar later. After five days, I was grateful for so much that my lists couldn’t keep up.
Now I sit down with my slips and jar each evening and think about how lovely my day has been.
It’s only been a week and I feel happier. My steps are a bit lighter.
Many of you have big problems right now. Life can be scary and difficult. I won’t pretend to have all the answers. But what if this little thing could offer some hope? Isn’t it worth a try?
I encourage you, right now, as you read this, to make up your mind to begin this practice for seven days.
You don’t have to use the jar thing. You can get a journal or just a note pad to put in your pocket. I believe it works best if you write down your “thank you’s” but if that’s not your thing, schedule a time each day to get still and think about your blessings.
In seven days, I will put up a little post designed just for your comments on this topic. I can’t wait to hear how this week goes for you.
I’m so excited for you! Heck, I’m excited for us both!
I Love you all!