“I have my traditional approach to gratitude practice-writing daily in my journal. And I have some eclectic approaches. An A-Z list while I commute. A momentary pause on an early morning walk to take in the awe of the stars and moon.” (x)
I keep my weekly running list of Gratitudes in Evernote, then post them here on Sundays. Lately I’ve also been trying to include a meaningful quote about keeping a gratitude practice, often from posts by fellow bloggers who are working on their own practices. Today I’ve decided to write about my own experiences, because there as many different ways to practice gratitude as there are people in the world, if not more.
When I write down the things I’m grateful for, it helps me remember and attach the context to it. Coming back later to a list of “my partner, my dog, my cat, having a job, good health” etc. isn’t as meaningful as things like, “holding hands with my partner while we go for a drive.” Because of course I’m grateful for any person in my life who makes me happy, but that happiness becomes richer the more conscious I am of what about them, and what about me when I’m with them, inspires those good feelings.
If I’m in a crabby mood I’m more likely to notice and focus on things that annoy me, and if I’ve failed to notice positive things that have been happening recently I have less of a “but wait, sometimes it’s not annoying, sometimes it’s like this instead” buffer.
My gratitude list helps remind me to notice the world I’m moving through. As a Californian, I am grateful for rain during the drought we’re currently stuck in, and now that we’ve gotten one good storm in I find myself really appreciating the green hills around me. I’m grateful for brilliant clouds on the drive to or from work, and the ocean view in certain places when I drive south along the coast to visit family — these are the little things that cancel out my anxiety about driving and allow me to actually look forward to the long car trips.
I don’t keep a strict gratitudes per day quota because I can be really hard on myself when I don’t make hard goals like that. It’s something I’m working on. It would be counterproductive to give myself any reason to beat myself up, so I just try to have at least seven things each week. The more the better, and if I sometimes have to think back for something I was grateful for yesterday who cares, it’s probably a good memory exercise. My goal is to get better both at noticing in the moment and remembering those moments later, so either way this feels like progress.
I’ve also read that you can get a good positivity boost from randomly complimenting people throughout the day. I’m not used to actually doing the out loud, but I try. At the very least, the next stage of my practice is to work more compliments into my gratitude list, and try to voice more of them in the moment (and/or later) to whoever they belong to.
Lastly, I want to try an exercise suggested here as a kind of mini A to Z challenge.
- A. Apartment, and absence of parents.
- B. Barney the chocolate lab, who’s a sweetheart.
- C. Creativity, and the inner light it brings to my life.
- D. D, vitamin supplements, which have leveled out both my vitamin D deficiency and in some ways my overall mood.
- E. Eating, having enough not to go hungry.
- F. Frankie the calico kitten, the princess who chews with her mouth open.
- G. Grins, because humor is a necessity.
- H. Holding my partner’s hand while we go for a drive.
- I. Ice cream!
- J. J is the first letter of both my and my partner’s name.
- K. Kisses and kindness.
- L. Love, and how lucky I am to have found it.
- M. Mom, who doesn’t really get me but we love each other a lot.
- N. Navigation, aka my GPS, without which I would have a lot more getting-lost related anxiety.
- O. Opportunities — in where to live, in who I marry someday, in my still kinda fledgling career.
- P. Pedestrianism. Not the eating of pedestrians, just being one. Because sometimes it’s nice to walk and take my time getting there instead of driving.
- Q. Questions, and the forward motion that self-reflection can bring.
- R. Rain. We’re in a drought here, we need it!
- S. Sunset skies that look like pink, purple, and orange cotton candy.
- T. Thinking. About books, tv shows, my writing – all the things I have free time to do.
- U. Understanding, which is sometimes a struggle but so, so important to aim for. I’m working on understanding the people around me and I’m grateful for their understanding in return.
- V. Vacations. I haven’t been on one in a while but now that I am fully employed again I could actually afford to.
- W. Wind. It’s pretty windy here, and even though I get cold easily, I was walking to the store the other day and the sound of wind in my ears was surprisingly comforting. It was like… a small piece of what standing alone on top of a mountain in beautiful solitude and calm would be like.
- X. Xanthan gum, because my partner is gluten intolerant and I love to bake.
- Y. Yawning. After a brief flirtation with possible TMJ, I am once again able to yawn without becoming convinced that my jaw is going to lock in place.
- Z. Zombies and the fact that they are fictional. I find zombie stories absolutely fascinating but I don’t think I would do very well in one.