I always thought of myself as a grateful person. After all I’ve been reading about gratitude since I was 16 in books like The Secret, The Four Agreements, A Return to Love, A New Earth, The Last Lecture, Excuses Begone, the list goes on.
But as it turns out, what I thought was practicing gratitude wasn’t actually the case.
I thought that because I read about it, I was automatically the most grateful person in the world. I would say how grateful I was but I never truly felt it. I would tell other people that if they had more gratitude in their lives it would fix everything yet I was the one who needed it the most. My thoughts and words surrounding gratitude were empty.
I was just never truly grateful… until something was taken away from me and by that time it was too late.
To be honest I find it harder and harder to become grateful, (you would think it’d be the opposite right?). Maybe because I’m setting higher standards for myself and when I don’t reach them I feel defeated. Or maybe it’s because I’m constantly reminded of what I don’t have thanks to social media.
Whatever the reason, some days I just want to quit but then I somehow manage to pull what gratitude I do have to the surface and keep pushing forward.
Here’s the thing, we all have days where we want to quit because we all want more than we’ve got yesterday! That’s just a fact. It’s greedy, but it’s the truth. And unfortunately the only way to get more of what you want is to be grateful for what you already have. It’s a funny thing that gratitude…
So this season my goal is to be extremely grateful, like crazy, annoyingly grateful, which is why I’ve come up with a fool proof plan, if you will, to be more grateful that works for me and I hope works for you too.
write it down
Writing things down just makes it official. You can have all these ideas and all these goals but if you don’t write them down what use are they in your head? Writing things down puts the plan in motion. It solidifies your thoughts. Thinking something isn’t enough, you have to write it down.
So every day I try to write down 5-10 things I’m grateful for. Even if I’m not feeling so grateful, which to be honest seems to be more often than not these days. But I write down what I’m grateful for anyway, to be reminded of everything there is to be grateful for.
Your list doesn’t have to be specific though, that’s always a plus, it can just be general things in your day-to-day life you forget about. The sun, clean air, your dog, your parents, your siblings, your house, your job, your phone, your fingers, your legs… all of those things count.
I’ll tell you one thing when I had my little toe infection that Snapchat was privy to, (gross I know), I was SO grateful while it was healing because you never know what a crucial role your toe plays until you can’t use it. So now “toe” is at the top of my list of things I’m grateful for.
This may seem counterintuitive but yes if you struggle with gratitude, I recommend unfollowing everyone, even your favorite “inspirational” bloggers. You’re not doing yourself any favors by looking at how seemingly great their lives are while you struggle.
Plus when you unfollow people, you won’t be distracted from your other work.
I mean, how many times do you go into Instagram to check how many likes you got on a pic just to end up stalking your favorite blogger’s sister’s best friend? It’s a black hole, that Instagram.
If you still want to be motivated and inspired then follow accounts like @achievetheimpossible, @visualhealth, @deepakchopra, and @leonardodicaprio. Those are strictly self-development accounts filled with motivational quotes and ways you can contribute positively to the world. And to be completely honest, those are the only types of accounts you should be following if you struggle with feeling grateful.
Put your blinders on and keep it moving.
One way to be reminded of how much you have is to give back to those who have less. The feeling you get from helping someone else is like a high. And no material thing can replicate the feeling you get from something intangible. Sure, getting gifts is nice but when you give a gift… it’s so much better, right?
One thing I’m grateful for is living in NYC because you’re never short of a minute to give back or help out.
I remember one time I was walking in SOHO and this homeless man (whose name I later learned is Chris) was asking for spare change and this older gentleman went right up to him and said: “Hey Chris, how ya doin today?!”. Chris replied. And he said “Here you go, have a great day, I’ll see you later” and hands him a $5.
I was walking right next to this older man after and I said “Do you know him?” And he said “Yeah he’s been on the same corner for years.” I said, “That was really nice of you” and he goes “You’ll never regret doing something good, you know?” And I just smiled and went on my way.
That really stuck with me. He’s right. You’ll never regret doing something good.
So if you’re ever feeling not grateful, do something good for someone or something less fortunate and I promise you’ll feel instant gratification.
have a spiritual routine
Before Not Another Blonde, I ran a blog called Sheer Spirit. Sheer Spirit was a spiritual self-development blog.
Sheer Spirit marked my discovery stage in life when I realized the power of meditation, yoga, and self-transformation. It was actually really cool. It was one of my favorite times in my life.
I never felt more in control like I did then. If I thought about something or wanted something to happen, it happened thanks to synchronicity. The mind is a very powerful thing…
Anyway, during this time I developed a spiritual “practice” or routine, which I talk about more in depth HERE.
So my practice goes something like this: exercise, meditation, prayer, gratitude list, hot water with lemon, done.
Sometimes I don’t always write down what I’m grateful for or drink hot water with lemon but I always, always meditate for at least 7 minutes (I went from 5 to 7 just recently, though 20 is ideal), and then I pray.
Now when I say pray I don’t mean a full-blown religious prayer. Religion and spirituality are two completely different things. My idea of prayer is thanking the universe (or whatever you believe in) for another day because let’s be honest, every day you wake up healthy is a good day right? And then you can go in for the ask.
Go ahead, be selfish and ask for something you’d like to happen. I usually ask to be productive and positive or if I’m feeling sick I’ll ask to be healthy, so on and so forth. And when I really ask, like I’m in the zone and not just blindly talking, I usually get whatever it is I ask for. I’ll say it again: the mind is a powerful thing.
Your first run at gratitude probably won’t be a very successful one as we’re programmed into thinking we never have enough. But like everything, the more you practice, the better you’ll become. And I promise you won’t regret it.
What’s one thing you’re grateful for? Nothing is too big or too small. Tell me in the comments below!
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