Last month, I took part in a class called “Getting Naked” that Julia Fehrenbacher offered online. Every day for 40 days, Julia gave us food for thought and creative writing assignments. It was amazing how much I learned about myself just from getting naked every day for 40 days. I highly recommend the class if Julia runs it again.
One of the first Getting Naked assignments that Julia gave us was to log 25 things we were grateful for each and every day. When I first received this assignment, my reaction was, “Ugh – that’s crazy! I don’t have the time or energy to do that!” I come from a family of pessimists; my parents were impressionable little kids during the Depression and never completely got over living on the edge of survival. Eighty years later, gratitude is still not something that flows naturally in my family. But I have been slowly working at getting more optimistic and more grateful. So, on second thought, I decided to try this gratitude log for a few days and see what happened.
Noticing and recording my gratitudes went smoothly for the first few days. It didn’t take very long and I actually enjoyed coming up with a list of things I was grateful for. But then, on about day 5, I hit a wall. I became completely and totally resistant to writing down ANYTHING else that I was grateful for, much less 25 items a day. So, I stopped. I stopped completely. And after a few days, I noticed how crappy my mood was. And how crappy it stayed. I was a complete whiny bitch!
About day 9, after days of no gratitude log and much complaining, a quiet little voice inside me began poking at me insistently. My little voice gently suggested that I focus on gratitude again. But I’m stubborn – very stubborn sometimes. It took my inner knowing 4-5 days to convince me to start logging gratitudes again. But I finally did. And I felt better! I actually felt a lot better every time I sat down and logged 25. So much better that some days I would log 30 or 40 or 50 items in my gratitude log.
And now, even though my Getting Naked class ended a few weeks ago, I continue to log gratitudes for at least a few minutes every day. So what happened? Why would I take the time to do this gratitude log every day? Here’s what I’ve discovered about gratitude; it can completely change how your life goes. Oprah was right. 🙂
I know it sounds trite and silly. And I don’t want you to think that I’m becoming a Pollyanna or anything (Pollyanna’s are definitely not allowed in my family). But focusing on what I’m grateful for softens me up in ways I can’t even put into words. For one thing, this gratitude log gets my mind out of the perpetual worry and whine track that I am so prone to fall into. It also opens my heart to what I love about the world. This one little thing helps my day just plain flow better.
Now when I wake up cranky, I find myself actively looking for something to be grateful for right away; I have learned that if I can “reset” my awareness to gratitude setting, my entire day will shift for the better. What I focus on truly does increase.
Here are a few little things that I’m grateful for today:
Brigit’s hurt paw is healing – no more limp!
a wonderful vet in Lyons
walking by the river with Brigit again
talking with my friend JW yesterday
time to write
something to write about
hummingbirds at the feeder
Buffalo ridge outside my window
hubby and daughter coming home tonight
my spiritual ‘sister’, JP
friendly checker at the market in Lyons
finding gorgeous organic kale at the market
thunder rumbling – a cool rain is approaching
seeing the stars last night
the lavender bushes in my yard
smell of pine in the air every evening
it’s still green here in July
writing of Celtic mystic Tom Cowan
watching my kids grow into adults
cycles and rhythms of the seasons
my husband David’s voice on the phone
my daughter Izze’s laugh
my son Henry texting me and telling me what’s up with him
granite rocks – I love granite!
hot chai in a mug
little surprise cottonwood tree that rooted in the garden
a sudden mountain rainstorm this afternoon
Getting Naked with you
Ahhh, I feel better. It truly is the little things that make the most difference in my life.
How about you? What are you grateful for today?