I remember when I was a kid, maybe 10 or 11 I saw on Oprah that she writes down 5 things she’s grateful for every night before bed. I started doing this feeling like this would be more streamlined than my usual journal session about my day.
Unfortunately I stopped doing it, I’m not sure why but here I am 20 years later and I just started up my gratitude practice again. April 19th, 2017 to be precise and I can honestly say it has changed my life. Here’s the craziest part, nothing has really changed, at least not from the outside, I still have the same old car, my son is still awesome, my husband still works the same job, we still have our two old ladies (dogs) and I believe I weigh the same, if not more than I did when I started (thank you pregnancy).
Nothing new, but I no longer see all of it the same way. I used to hate and resent our cars, they’re old and there’s always something wrong with them, but now I’m just thankful to have them. Things, like a cranky baby or two dogs who believe they also have umbilical cords attached to me don’t bother me like they used to. I no longer see my husband’s job as taking him away from us, I see it as my opportunity to stay home with Julian and pay our bills.
And as for the extra padding, well, I’m working on it, and by working on it I mean working to love myself more, not working to get rid of it. As I told a friend recently, 2nd trimester isn’t really the best time to start P90X, but instead of feeling down about myself I realized, thanks to gratitude journaling, that I can work on the way I see myself.
It’s not about being perfect, it’s about accepting, loving and living your life right now, not when you’re rich, or have a 6 pack (beer or abs) because if you wait until you have all the things you want then you’ll never be happy because you’ve trained yourself not to be happy.
There were days when I sat down to write 5 things and thought “this day was absolutely horrible, I can’t even think of one thing to write”, but I didn’t write that because I thought to myself, in 20 years looking back through this do I want to read about how horrible my day was, or do I want to read about the good things? Trust me, you can find 5 things to be thankful for, even if you have to get creative. Sometimes just waking up in the morning (despite the horribleness of the day) is something to be thankful for, the flowers in your neighbor’s garden can be a thing. Your gratitude list doesn’t have to be life changing like buying a new car or remodeling your kitchen, they can be small, like wearing your favorite outfit.
And know that as you keep it up it will become easier for you to find things that were great about each day, now I usually have to decide which things I want to add and which things to leave out.
It’s not that tough, just spend the 50 cents on a notebook and start. It’s the cheapest and easiest thing you can do to change your life.