Originally, today’s post was going to be a write up of my 30 posts in 30 days challenge, but instead I felt the need to share something I read recently that has had a positive impact on my life. I’m sure, like me, that you’ve read or heard about the importance of practicing gratitude as a means to living a happier and more contented life. If you haven’t, the deal is that spending some time each day thinking about or writing down all that we are grateful for, will help us to truly appreciate what we have in life, thus making us feel happier.
I’ve always been a fan of this idea but for some reason the act of writing down my gratitude list didn’t seem to have the desired effect for me. For a number of weeks a while back, I wrote down 3-5 things each day that I felt grateful for but it almost felt like I was going through the motions of practicing gratitude rather than doing something actively. Instead for me, what feels more natural is to give thanks as and when good things happen, which is something I continue to do on a regular basis.
Recently, however, I read that when practicing gratitude it is essential that we also give thanks for the things we don’t want in our lives. When I first read this, I felt confused. I couldn’t see how I would be able to feel grateful for the things that I don’t want in my life? The suggestion is that we make a list of everything in our lives that we don’t feel grateful for and then deliberately practice gratitude for everything on that list. Even though I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, I thought I would give it a go.
To give you a flavour of what was on my list, I had things like: my recently failed hard drive, being single, my numerous mosquito bites, my dwindling budget, my fears around earning money, a misunderstanding with a friend and so it goes on. In fact when I started the list I thought I only had one or two things to put on it, but I soon realised how many small things about my life I would change if I could. The suggestion in the book is to spend some time each day to go through that list and practice gratitude for each item on it.
When things or situations are undesirable in our life, then the idea of practicing gratitude feels almost impossible, but the book suggests that we say thanks for those things even when we don’t feel thankful, the idea being that we practice gratitude for all of the things in our lives just the way they are. As the theory goes “being grateful for whatever we have always turns what we have into more” and I liked the sound of that.
Saying thank you for the things I didn’t feel grateful for felt fake at first, but with time and without forcing it, I’ve started to see the silver lining of most of the things on my list. I haven’t done this in a structured way. I don’t take half an hour each day to run through my list and say thanks. What has worked for me is giving thanks for the things I’d rather change in my life as and when they come up. To give you an example, yesterday I spent most of the day trying to get my laptop back to its former glory and found myself feeling inevitably despondent each time I realised I’d lost something else. Every time I caught myself wishing for things to be different, I stopped and said thank you for my laptop being just exactly as it is.
Now I don’t know yet whether or not there will be long-term effects to this practice. I haven’t yet seen if being grateful for all of my life just as it is, will bring more of the good stuff into it but what I do know is that practicing gratitude for the undesirable aspects of my life has definitely made me feel much better in the short-term. Saying thank you rather than wishing for things to be different, definitely makes the difficult situations feel far easier to deal with.
Are there things in your life that you would rather change? Do you expend energy and time resisting your life as it is? If so, then perhaps this theory about gratitude might also make a difference to you. Maybe you already practice gratitude for the difficult stuff, if so I’d love to hear how that works for you. If you liked this post please don’t forget to share it by hitting one of the buttons below.