Gratitude seems to be all the rage these days in many communities. And rightfully so. Pick up any magazine, watch any talk show, play around on YouTube a bit and you're likely to find a myriad of personalities singing the praises of expressing Gratitude, with lines such as: Be thankful, embrace where you are, receive the blessings you are given...
It's more than just a concept or emotion- it can also be a practice. And at times, a very confronting one. We're all too happy to express our gratitude when things go right and life is full of joy and happiness. Then, gratitude seems to come flowing from your veins, like we want to shout it to the world.
But what happens when, well, things aren't going so great? What happens when you are in the thick of something nasty- be it a work situation, relationship troubles, a healing crisis, illness, or everything seems to be crashing down at once? How does Gratitude fit in then? Are you still thankful for what is happening?
Maybe not in the moment, but maybe you should be.
You see, it's easy to love your life and be grateful when everything is going your way. But reality is, life doesn't always be have like that. One way to get through it is to start you 'Not-So-Standard Gratitude" practice.
At least once a day, sit down and make a list of all of the things you are grateful for.
Write at the top of your page "Today, I am grateful for....."
Start with the easiest, such as "I am grateful for being alive today" and work from there. It could be anything, from the weather, to what you ate, to the people you love. Just start writing down whatever comes to you for the day. It could be 2 things, it could be 20. A good number to target would be 5 things daily.
Now, take it a step further. Begin to write down all of the things that maybe, on the surface, you aren't so happy happened that day. Maybe you got stuck in traffic, or lost your job, or got in a fight with your partner, that pain in your back is still nagging you, or the test results at the doctor didn't come back well. Leave a few lines beneath each one. Once you have your list of the things [and it could only be one], take some time to reflect on how each one may just be a blessing to be grateful for. Maybe losing your job will allow you to finally start that jewelry company you've been dreaming of, or that fight will deepen your relationship. Maybe the illness is ushering in a healing crisis where you begin to heal your whole body on many levels.
Or maybe, just maybe, for today, you have no reason to see any of it as something to be grateful for. And that's ok. Add it anyway. Even if your mind can't comprehend how to be grateful for what is happening, your heart knows, and that is where all healing begins and ends.
And keep adding it. Every day. It may take days, weeks, months or even years to add next to it why you should be grateful for it. It may be something that you hate for a long time, or just can not see any good it. Doesn't matter. Keep writing it. Every day. As you continually pledge your gratitude towards it, the good that it served you in your life will become evident.
The point is to begin looking at everything that happens in your daily life- the good, the bad, and the ugly- as a blessing. As something that brought you further along on the path of life. Of something to be grateful for, no matter what. It's easy to focus on the light, but I say, let's embrace the shadow as well- because here's the key- once you begin to embrace the shadow, then you have the power to transform it.
"our life transformation is in exact proportion to the amount of truth we can take without running away" - Vernon Howard
So your homework today is to begin your own Not-So-Standard Gratitude Practice. Buy a journal or start a file on your computer. And have at it. And don't forget to give thanks for those not so standard blessings in disguise.
Here's to loving the truth and embracing what is- shadows and all.