In Marci Shimoff’s book, “Happy for No Reason” she tells the story of a woman who had gone through a painful divorce, was dealing with the death of her mother, and because of financial circumstances was forced to move in with her elderly father.
If you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness. – Unknown
The two of them were about “as glum as two people could be.” Hearing about the power of gratitude from some friends, they decided to give it a try by expressing three things that they were grateful for in the morning before the daughter left for work. The first day was very difficult and she was having a hard time figuring out anything for which she could be grateful. Finally, the only thing that she found to be grateful for was a pretty vase that they had in the house. It was all she could muster.
As time went on, the practice became easier and easier. Eventually she and her father had to stop before they were both done or she would be late for work. They added the singing of “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” to their repertoire and their mornings were soon filled with joy.
Think about the first time you worked out lifting weights. Maybe you started with a five-pound weight and you were stunned at how ‘heavy’ it was. However, as you consistently added weightlifting to your workout regime, you found that that five pound weight soon became too light. You then progressed to a ten pound, then twenty pound and maybe even up to fifty-pounds (ok, maybe not.) The point is, the more you practiced, the stronger you became.
Just like working out, gratitude is a PRACTICE. When you first decide to incorporate a gratitude practice, you might find that your muscles are “wimpy, wimpy, wimpy” (remember the old trash bag commercial?) You have to really struggle just to come up with three things for which you can express thanks.
However, when you consistently practice the art of appreciation, your gratitude muscle will strengthen and will become “hefty, hefty, hefty” (same commercial).
Repetition strengthens us. You will find that when you develop the habit of thankfulness, no matter what happens, you will be able to find a way to be grateful for it. Your perspective will shift and it becomes easier to see the glass as ‘half-full.’ There may be days that the only thing you can find to be grateful for is a pretty vase in the house. Start with when you can, with what you have, where you are. Once you get started, you’ll get into a groove, and the gratitude will flow.
Start your gratitude list today by writing down a list of EVERYTHING for which you are grateful for. You may want to set a timer for a certain period and write. The first items will come quickly. Continue to write, without stopping or thinking about what you’re writing. You’ll develop a list on which some things that came up may surprise you. Put this list in a place where you can access it on the days you really need it. Add to the list as often as you can. This is a project that you can work on as long as you choose – and as your gratitude muscle grows stronger, so will you.