April 15, 2017

Five years ago, I lacked confidence. I didn’t trust my creativity. So I decided to practice gratitude. My thinking and feelings started changing in surprising ways. Today, daily gratitude makes every single day worth living.

Gratitude showed me how to exercise flabby mental and emotional muscles. Over time, muscle memory added up to a new outlook. Everything happened very gradually, naturally, gently. Soft and snuggly as a baby.

Daily gratitude makes every day worth living

From this place of fullness, I’m quite enjoying my creativity now. Somehow, exciting work projects keep finding me. On the personal front, I give and get the unconditional love that eluded me most of my life. All this, because I found nine ways to practice gratitude.

1. Five good things about my day 

My journey to gratitude began here. Even now, at bedtime, I jot down five good things from the day. Just five short, clear phrases. The gratitudes are a mix of big and small moments. They make me realize how much I take for granted. So many things to be thankful for.

2. Set my boundaries

Getting grateful makes me less needy. I started appreciating myself. This gave me the confidence to say “no.” I bailed from the people-pleasing that used to leave me resentful and exhausted. I also began saying “yes” more often to my own dreams, wishes and preferences.

3. Respect other people’s boundaries  

Setting my own boundaries made me more grateful and respectful of loved ones. Giving them space is hard. But being less bossy brings results. When I let go, they find me, if they want. And they usually do. Mutual respect creates safe space.

4. Speak the language of gratitude

I am SO DONE with perfectionism. Bye-bye guilt and shame. Growing up, the fear of messing up kept me small. These days, I gratefully get out there to experience and experiment. Whatever happens, happens. P.S. — I also stopped using words like “perfect” and “excellent.”

5. Find like-minded souls

Grateful people exude fabulous energy. I can’t be around whiners, complainers and victims anymore. Sure, the grateful still complain and whine. But perspective keeps them self-aware. Their daily gratitude makes every single day worth living, no matter what.

6. Gratitude is spiritual

Gratitude connects me to both my inner life and to the larger universe. This bigger picture makes gratitude spiritual — but not necessarily religious. In my case, I’m finding a loving concept of God that’s very different from the punishing God of my church-y childhood.

7. Breathe, baby, breathe

Meditation used to sound complicated. Then I discovered a form of breathing meditation. Inhale, exhale. This process is so profoundly basic, yet healing. And yes, meditation is definitely spiritual. So if you want to feel better, meditate now.  :)

8. Let go with 10 minutes of free writing

What is free writing? For me, it means 10 minutes of typing whatever crap pops into my brain. I fly through this exercise with no regard for grammar or spelling. I rarely read it after I’m done. Its only purpose is to clear out the static in my head.

9. Forgiveness

Miracles of miracles — I’ve become truly grateful to my parents. I do genuinely love them now. They did what they could. The rest is up to me. Forgiving them allows me to move on. Now I’m learning how to forgive other people (or at least feel more compassionate).

Daily gratitude makes every single day worth living. At least, for me. What about you? I’d love to hear how you practice gratitude and, your thoughts.