When I first started keeping a gratitude journal nearly eight years ago, I thought it was a crazy idea.
I strongly felt like had NOTHING to be grateful for … but I thought it was worth a try. In fact, I was desperate to get out of the Land of Bitter and Sour I had found myself in. I was so tired of feeling so alone and unsupported as a new mom of twin babies.
My gratitude journal began on January 1st as the first of many life changing techniques I discovered while beginning my Abundant Mama journey.
In the beginning, I truly struggled with what to write, and often felt that I was writing the same things day after day. I berated myself for never having enough to be grateful for in life.
I kept writing, hoping that what the author said would be true: It would pay off in the end. More would come back to me if I was more grateful.
And then in mid May of that same year — when my husband lost his job as a result of a merger — I could have easily given up completely. It would have been easy to close it up, toss it to the back of the night stand and never fill it out again.
I was that angry. It could have easily seemed as if there was no grace to find, no gratitude to offer.
I was angry at so many people at that time. We lost our security — as if the earth moved and the dirt crumbled beneath our feet, leaving us feeling unstable, uncertain. Never a good place to be. Never a good feeling. Never something I’d want anyone I love to deal with in their lifetime.
I could have given up that gratitude practice. At that point, to be honest, I wasn’t sure the gratitude concept was working. We were spinning with devastation and worry about our place in our town, our place in our friendship circle, our place in the world.
Over the course of five months, we rewrote who our friends really were (they were the ones that checked in on us periodically, sent us job leads and asked how we were holding up). We rewrote what we wanted in life. We rewrote what it means to feel safe, secure and at peace in our hearts. We rewrote what living is about.
And, for me, I kept writing at least five things that I was thankful for in my life. Every day. Five more things. Then five more. Five and then five and then five.
Now, I lead hundreds of women around the world in not just starting a gratitude journal — but creating an Abundance practice that is so much more than just writing a few things in a journal each day.
Here’s what I learned from my first year with a gratitude practice:
- When you experience such a loss, it might seem easier to just hate on everything. What came from the daily gratitude, however, was immense clarity. Life became about the ones who cared about us. I have released myself from those who I barely heard from, not even once.
- While I did skip days here and there during that time, I kept writing each and every Grace into that little book with a little tree on the front that keeps me grounded. That keeps me still and centered. It’s almost like that little book has become a source of peace, a source of comfort.
- What also happened during the past year is that I realized that I needed to reach out to others as I wished them to reach out to me. I loved Elissa Elliott’s post on this concept. In fact, I have now made it my mission to do simple acts of grace for others.
- Now, nearly a year after it all began, some things have clearly started coming back to us.Gifts from strangers. Kindness in rare forms. A job. New friends. Perhaps we’re just more aware now of the little things that mean so much. Perhaps it’s a bit of karma. Perhaps giving is the one gift we all need in our lives.
- And I can barely stop at 5 things now each night. I usually go beyond five. Maybe I’m just more aware. Maybe these gifts of gratitude were always here. Maybe they are new. Each one, though, is like a tiny snowflake — unique, different and precious.
- That we do really have to think listen to our own leaves rustling and be thankful for all that we do in a day.
And, perhaps more importantly, we have to listen carefully to the leaves of others rustling as well — and seek out the good all around us.
READY TO START YOUR GRATITUDE PRACTICE? Check out the Abundant Mama Online Program and we’ll guide your through making it a life-long practice you can stick with as long as you want.