My first year as a mother of twin babies was challenging for me for a lot of reasons.
The main issue was that I was felt very lonely and very isolated. It was so hard to leave the house with two babies. It was even harder to always feel outnumbered and never have enough hands to hold them and love them and care for them. I always felt torn and alone.
For the first few years of motherhood, I lived in between joy and delight of being a new mother and a constant state of bitter and sour over several losses in my life that left me without a support system. I was angry one minute. Crying the next.
The complicated grief of loneliness does that.
Then I learned about the power of gratitude and was encouraged to start a journal. As an avid journaler, this was very appealing to me.
I started daily gratitude journaling in January 2011 and I haven’t ever stopped.
The practice alone was a great start … but there’s no way I could have continued this long if that’s all I ever did. Stating and re-stating gratitudes wouldn’t ever be enough to really help me feel abundant — especially in really hard days.
Writing down things to be grateful can feel too much like a job.
It can feel forced and not based on truth.
After seven years of keeping my own daily gratitude practice going strong, I’ve learned that being grateful is a verb that we have to DO every day.
What I learned in that first year of my own gratitude journaling is that gratitude journaling isn’t enough on it’s own.
If you sit down and think you will feel more grateful just by writing 3 to 5 things each day, you will likely not get much back in return.
And you will see this as just another thing to do.
And the truth is that there are going to be days when you don’t want to be grateful.
You have to LIVE gratitude.
I had been living it and breathing it for seven years and, in many cases, set my life up for grateful moments. I had to lead with a grateful heart, as well as be willing to receive.
This is how the four pillars of being an Abundant Mama began … because gratitude alone isn’t going to elevate us beyond the ordinary.
In the past several years, I’ve led hundreds of women into this practice of daily gratitude and it’s often the first step on a major life transformation they feel — but the reason it works so well in the Abundant Mama class is because that’s actually Lesson Zero. The other practices and tools we apply deepen the practice and make it feel more like a lifestyle than a pastime.
True magical presence and connections happen with ourselves and others when we’re fully open to receiving and living gratitude each day.
The four pillars are what got me there. Of course at the time they weren’t pillars. They were tools and practices that helped me lead from a place of abundance so that I could be more present and awake in my life.
So that I could dream bigger.
And so I could feel loved and accepted in a time when I really felt so very isolated and abandoned.
As I head into my eighth year of treating gratitude as the verb it should be in our lives, I am celebrating all the abundance that comes my way when I deepen the practice.
The more I lead in a life of gratitude, the more abundance I see fill up my heart and my life.
Lately, I’ve been asked about how I sustain this daily practice of gratitude journaling and I’ve been trying to really think about how to motivate others not to just go through the motions but to truly LIVE gratitude.
And I realize it comes down to three really key steps that we focus on in the Abundant Mama Online Program.
1. Focus on what you DO have, not on what you don’t. We use several exercises to get to this in the online program and when done daily or weekly, you can really strengthen your gratitude muscles. In this modern world full of so much goodness, it’s easy to focus on what we don’t have, what we want more of and how we can be better and do better. But when we stop and focus on what we do have we see life from a different perspective.
2. Pay attention. This is perhaps the biggest challenge for people who want to feel more grateful but just can’t. When we can slow down long enough and really see the magnificent in our lives we see SO much more than we ever realized was even there. People. Moments. Magic. Joy. Connections. Hope. Effort. But you do have to use a new set of eyes and ears and hands for this to work.
3. Finally, artfully craft a life that feels abundant. You can do things every single day — multiple times a day — to create your own powerful moments in life. Letting life happen TO you leaves you feeling lost and scattered. Making life happen FOR you is where the true transformations into abundance happen.