Many of my friends are expressing thankfulness each day this month with a post on Facebook. Have you seen these posts in your newsfeed? Perhaps you are posting your own expressions of gratitude.
Or perhaps you struggle with this practice. I have to admit, I have not been very consistent with gratitude journal entries, and I’ve wondered why.
I have had clients who struggled with this as well. In their head they knew that it was a good practice, but felt there was a hindrance. You too?
A thankful heart can be difficult to summon when things are tough. When up against a deadline at work, or finding that the bills extend further than your pay, or that your doctor has given you some disturbing news…though you may feel that you need to put a smile on your face and look for the bright side, inside that may feel deceptive.
Stuffing those grumpy feelings won’t fix anything. In fact, studies have found that such a practice can have even more detrimental effects on your body. After all, your mind does have a very strong influence over your body.
I would propose that you strike a balance by acknowledging your feelings and cultivating a new perspective in the process. I find a good balance in answering three questions:
- What was the high point of my day?
- What was the low point of my day? (Take it further by considering what you might do next time to shift the outcome of a similar situation.)
- What did I feel proud of today, or who was a hero for me (and how can I express thanks)?
If you find yourself struggling to name the high point then start with acknowledging the low point(s). Get them out of your mind onto paper, and you just might find that they don’t have the same weight on the paper as they did in your head. Then look for the high point and your hero (who just might be YOU).
You don’t have to push yourself to practice gratitude. This approach may feel more authentic to you. It encourages you to evaluate your day and learn from your experiences – acknowledging the good, the bad and the promising.
When might you put this into practice? You get to explore when it feels right for you – whether at the end of your day, as you start a new one (reflecting on the prior day), or perhaps you may want to introduce it as part of your family discussion at the dinner table. What a gift it would be to teach your children to look at each day as an opportunity to reflect and learn!
I am so very thankful that I am not alone on this journey! I have you among many others who are seeking to pursue wellness in way that is beneficial body, soul and spirit. You bless me and challenge me to press on!