Practicing gratitude

It seems that everywhere I turn these days, I get messages about gratitude.

“Cultivating Gratitude and Joy” was one of the main guideposts in Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, which I read in May as a homework assignment for counseling.  Within days of reading that chapter on gratitude, and noting that it was perhaps something I should practice, I was on a flight home from D.C. and noticed the young woman next to me on the plane pull a small journal from her bag with something like, “Today’s Gifts,” written on the front.

When I relayed this to my counselor, she suggested that every night, I write down [at least] three good things that happened to me that day in my planner (i.e., something I already had — no need to go buy a special book).

I maintained this practice for about a week, and then it fizzled.  Until Monday, that is, when I saw a Facebook link to this article: Stop Glossing Over the Good Stuff.  The author received a wake-up call when a colleague challenged him with the question, “Are you really complaining right now?”

He goes on to relate the conversation and the psychology behind focusing on the negative and glossing over the positive, which is the default position for many of us.    Fortunately, anyone can shift this balance, though it does take practice.

On the same day I found the above-mentioned post, “Practice gratitude” was one item on this list of “Ten Simple Things You Can do Today that will Make You Happier.”  Hmm.

The idea of, and psychology behind, “training” your brain for positivity was explored further in “How to Rewire Your Brain for Positivity and Happiness.”

Since it appears I can’t escape this gratitude thing, I’m going to embrace it.

Three good things about this morning:

  1. A lovely bike ride to Local Harvest Grocery
  2. Gabriel looking forward to going to Mrs. L’s
  3. 10% off at the store

I will record at least three positive things in a journal (I already had one, and my planner was just too small) every day.  It’s a small step — the links above have more suggestions and ideas, but it’s a start.

I may or may not institute a weekly gratitude post here — not sure yet.  I also like the idea of stopping yourself every time you (or someone else) catches a complaint and listing three good things on the spot.

I have no illusions that making the shift from a negative focus to a positive one will be easy.  No, it will require work.  Practice.  Training.  But the benefits seem well worth the effort.  Will you join me?

Attitude shift

Deconstructed pie

After I wrote the previous post, I did a lot of thinking along the lines of, “Who am I to complain?”

For two hours of my morning, and the expected price tag, a competent auto body specialist fixed the window problem, and I moved on with my day.

I returned home and put together a lovely lunch of leftovers, then combined my feet and MetroBus to get to City Greens Farmer’s Market.  Biking in full half-past-noon sun in the 103-degree heat index lacked appeal.

With the walk/bus option, I can either use a sun hat or my sunbrella to avoid sunscreen. Around here, many people are happy to use light rail (MetroLink), but either have tons of excuses for not using the bus, or seem to never consider it, which is a shame.  Metro upgraded their website and the trip planning feature now links to Google Transit — pretty user friendly.

While I was out and about, I encountered a few things that put my “problems” into perspective, and reminded me to be thankful.  Although I don’t practice it daily, I like No Impact Man’s idea of making a gratitude list.  Here’s mine for today:

  1. Circus Flora (St. Louis’ own one-ring circus) — we went last night.  The artists display such an amazing combination of athleticism, grace, strength, and beauty.  I love watching bodies in motion.
  2. My legs that carry me when I walk or bicycle for transportation.
  3. My family.
  4. Local farmers who work hard (for not much profit).
  5. Homegrown blackberries, featured in deconstructed pie 🙂