About eight months ago, I started an everyday gratitude practice and I am here to insist that you do a taste-test (as they call it when the kids try a new food at my daughter’s Preschool) of the everyday gratitude Kool-Aid.
I assure you, while this might at first feel like just one more thing to add to an ever-growing To Do list, this, especially over time, will prove its worth.
A little more than a year ago, I started out on a self-discovery path; I completed the Year Compass review at the end of 2016 (a free, downloadable booklet that is a guide to helping you review your previous year’s accomplishments and goals, and helps you plan out the next year) and the discoveries I made through this process set me on my heels. I shed a lot of tears over that 2016 review. I associated words and thoughts with myself that were among the likes of, “Discontent, dissatisfied, frustrated, unfulfilled, directionally complacent, not knowing what I want, not believing in myself, not putting myself first.”
I had put so much into being a mother, and into being the cheerleader, the champion for my family that I had forgotten to do the same for myself, for my own goals, and for my own dreams. So much so that it took me months of connecting with myself to dig into what those goals and dreams might even be.
More likely than not, you’re nodding in agreement here. Or, you’re where I was at a few years ago, thinking all of this is a bunch of nonsense. Bear with me; I used to be a skeptic too.
I set out to change my course and, over time, realized I also needed to change my mindset. I devoured self-development books, I started following passionate, inspiring women and curating my consumption in all aspects of social media, literature, television and more.
This year, I jumped into my Year Compass review and forward planning for 2018, and I have committed to a few practices that I have learned about through reading various books, articles, and posts, but the one habit that I have maintained for eight solid months is an everyday gratitude practice.
Every day, I share five things I am grateful for, as well as an additional advance gratitude, for something I hope to achieve in the future.
I share this on a secret page with a small accountability group of women who do the same. We read each other’s posts, comment and send encouragement. Their posts encourage me to find gratitude in even more things than I ever imagined I could conjure up myself.
Daily gratitude has helped me through challenging situations; it has helped me see the good in nearly everything. More importantly, though, it has created in me a better sense of appreciation of each moment. There are times where I am struck with such an overwhelming sense of gratitude that it brings tears to my eyes. These moments, usually small and concise, could be easily overlooked or glanced over as insignificant, but this everyday gratitude practice has helped me become more aware of the smallest, everyday moments where I can seek out ways to be grateful.
Often, the things that I find gratitude in lie in the smallest moments.
Sunshine, warm weather, a brief moment to catch up with a friend, an extended helping hand, a kind gesture, a child’s laughter, the scent of lilacs, the warm inviting taste of a hand-crafted cup of coffee. It is more difficult but equally important to find gratitude in the less joy-inspiring moments too, such as challenging situations (which allow and encourage growth), a sink full of dishes (we have the ability to provide nutrition and nourishment to our family), piles of laundry (our children are clothed and protected from any elements) and full calendars (our children are active and able).
This gratitude practice has helped me seek out more moments to appreciate, which helps in my goal of curating a life full of experiences that speak to my soul. I am more easily able to chase the experiences that I know I will be grateful for, that align with my values and make me innately happy, successful and satisfied.
Not every day is a walk in the proverbial park, of course, but this practice certainly helps in making lemonade out of lemons more often than not.
If you’re a tired, overwhelmed, frayed-at-the-edges mother, I suggest you take some time out of your day to focus on the good. Carve out a handful of minutes, at a time that works for you, to create your list. I find just before bed at night is the best time for me to reflect, but I also keep a running list of moments in my phone throughout the day, which helps the gratitude weave itself throughout the course of my day. Others prefer to make their lists in the morning upon rising, which sets a nice tone for the rest of the day.
I advise that you also find a way that works for you to chronicle these pieces of gratitude. I started and stalled with notebooks, and found digital to be the way that worked best for me. You could create a file, a secret page, or find some close friends who you could share your practice with, as I have done.
Keep in mind, this is a practice. It may not come easily at first. You may need to Google or Pinterest ideas on gratitude inspiration some days. Other days, it will flow easily. Some days, your practice will change your mood, and always for the better. It will work for you if you work at it.
Even in the most demanding seasons, in the most challenging of circumstances, we can, and we must, always find something to be grateful for.
What small and big everyday moments make you feel the most grateful?