Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude (or my lack thereof) has really been weighing on me lately. I’ve come across post after post, such as this one, this one, and this one shared by Infinite Health—maybe due to the approaching Thanksgiving holiday?—on the importance and benefits of living a life of gratitude. It seems a shame to say “practicing”, but like many things in life that do not come naturally at first, it takes some intentional mindfulness and routine exercise. So Tuesday, I downloaded Infinite Health’s 14-Day Gratitude Journal and began yesterday.

Over this two-week period, the journal leads you to log 10 things each day for which you are thankful and then, taking it a step further, to go into why you are grateful. (If you just did the math, that’s 140 items in two weeks!)  This exercise it meant to bring you to a point where an attitude of gratitude is second nature. Here’s an example of how it came into play for me:

If given the choice between bottled or tap water, I will choose bottled every single time and can taste the difference. (Seriously, it’s a taste-tested proven fact.) I usually won’t even drink the water from the Brita pitcher in the fridge. But yesterday evening, I ran out of bottled water. As I begrudgingly filled my glass up with refrigerated, filtered water, I paused. (If the prior sentence sounded very silly and diva-esque to you, that’s a good sign.) There was no reason why I shouldn’t be grateful for the albeit slightly metallic flavored water I was about to drink. It’s perfectly clear. It’s unpolluted. It’s in high supply and easily accessible. I’m only walking 3 steps, not 3 miles, to get it. And I don’t have to boil it before drinking for fear it would make me violently ill. (There are over 700 million people in this world who do not have access to clean water700 million.)  Gratitude.

This is the related journal entry, “I am so thankful and grateful for tap water because the majority of the world does not have the access, let alone the luxury, to choose between multiple sources of safe drinking water.”

This exercise isn’t meant to evoke the guilt that probably just swept you like it did me, but through this practice, I think it can and should bring a widened perspective. It’s a way to step back and look at your life, thoughts, and actions from a distance. Sometimes we don’t always like what we see, but if we regroup and refocus towards a more gratuitous mindset (and most likely one that’s a lot less centered on ourselves), we’ll be better for it.

I challenge you to take part in this exercise with me or find a way to consciously work thankfulness into your day. There’s no better time to start than now…and not just because it’s #thankfulthursday.

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