Practicing Thankfulness

It’s Wednesday again and time for another “Storm Survival” tip. This one can be tough to put into practice but I found it dramatically adjusted my perspective. I wrote down 5 things Igratitude was thankful for and looked at it every day…sometimes many times a day. In the midst of the chaos of emotions it can be difficult to shift your focus from everything that is going wrong to thankfulness. It takes a decision and an intentional effort. But at least for me it helped to keep me from sinking deep into a pity party and actually moving towards being overwhelmed by everything I do have. In the midst of all the hardships I have been blessed by A LOT this year and it is very humbling.

There is a reason why “thankfulness” is considered a discipline…you start out slow. Just like if you were just starting with running. You don’t go from couch potato to marathoner instantly. You build up over time and the first few weeks of training can feel like you are doing the most unnatural thing EVER. But the more your body adjusts to running the easier it becomes to go the distance and then even further. I found the same thing to be true with thankfulness.

The first few times I tried to transition my thoughts “Ugh, life is not fair. Why do I have to deal with this? Cancer and chemo and radiation!! I wasn’t supposed to have to face this at my age. Life just keeps getting worse! My marriage wasn’t supposed to face these hardships…EVER” to…

“Yes, life is unfair. But I am so thankful that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my family and friends love me. I am thankful for a job that has given me support and the space to heal and recover. I am thankful for a roof over my head and that I don’t have to worry about going bankrupt with medical bills. I am thankful for the hard truths that came out in my marriage because I would rather be dealing with the truth than a lie.” I could almost feel my brain physically rebelling in the exercise. It is not a natural state. Especially in our “me-centered” consumer focused culture where we are trained to be discontent unless we have _______ (health, family, job, relationship, iphone 5, etc)

I will add one caveat: it is OK to say that things are still HARD while you are practicing thankfulness. There is nothing magic about it. Everything that was difficult isn’t suddenly fabulous…it is probably still difficult. This is training yourself to focus on what you HAVE rather than what you don’t which will help you see the difficulties in a different perspective.

Practical tips:

  • Write your 5 things down and tape them somewhere (bathroom, front door, kitchen)
  • Set an alarm on your phone with your 5 things
  • Buy a bracelet or ring that will represent your intention towards thankfulness…every time you look at it let it remind you of what you do have

Inevitably there will be people out there who can’t think of 5. You don’t need to think of 5 (that was just a round number for me) but challenge yourself…sometimes being thankful requires changing the way you think about a particular circumstance.

  • Gas prices are SO high it is too expensive to fill up my car > Be thankful you have a car
  • Work is SO stressful > Be thankful you have a job in this economy

You get the idea. Here’s to a thankful Wednesday!



3 thoughts on “Practicing Thankfulness

  1. Pingback: Find your center | Burning Brightly

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