"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy." Brother David Steindl-Rast

Monday, December 1, 2014

Intimidating

Today I am grateful for good football games and reminders to pause for perspective.

In yesterday's post, I talked about trying a family gratitude practice and asking "What am I grateful for?" That question can bring pressure to some people. It can make them feel indebted to others and therefore add to an already long to-do list. If that is the case for you, I would encourage questions like "What went well today?" or "What did I like about today?" It can get you to the same place-appreciating and focusing on what is going well in life. That is what helps create a healthier perspective.

The gratitude practice I attempt regularly and write about often is more about mindfulness and paying attention. It is more about noticing the gifts around us on a daily basis, gifts given sometimes by others, but often just by virtue of our existence and from a higher source. It is only sometimes about directly thanking someone who has done something for me. At those times, I do try to reciprocate. Gratitude shared is gratitude multiplied.

Some questions can be intimidating. Some actions can seem intimidating. If keeping a daily gratitude journal seems daunting, if you are the kind to be more sporadic and miss days, but then think you have failed because it wasn't daily, I would ask you to consider this: like exercise, any gratitude practice is beneficial. Some is better than none. If you write in a gratitude journal a couple times a week, if you do something to practice gratitude for 5 minutes once a week, it can still have benefits. (And I would guess that it would lead to more than 5 minutes of gratitude focus a week too.)

Practicing gratitude when we don't feel very grateful can also feel intimidating. Like practicing recovery and sobriety can feel intimidating when we would rather be numb. But both can be done. Taking the right actions will at least lead us to the next part of our day. No one is happy and grateful all the time. I try to have a more realistic approach. I may not always feel grateful, but it is always possible to practice gratitude. Sooner or later my feelings come along and turn more positive.

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