I used to be highly suspicious of the concept of gratitude. It seemed like a lowering of expectations. It seemed like denial. It seemed like glossing over the grittiness of life with a big fake smile.
I may have been depressed. I was suspicious of feeling good. I would allow myself to feel good on special occasions; during a trip to the ocean, while eating a delicious meal, while dancing; but feeling good every day seemed frivolous. Also, I didn’t know how to deliberately feel good.
Imagine my surprise to find that I could learn to feel good most of the time. Not only did feeling good feel good, but it made everything in my life easier. Tasks were more easily accomplished when I felt good. My relationships with people in my life were better when I felt good. I got more of what I wanted when I felt good. I became very interested in feeling good.
I discovered that one easy tool to help me feel good is the gratitude list. It’s just a list of things in my life to feel grateful for. It makes me deliberately find good things in my life.
It’s easy to start with the basics. As Abraham Hicks says, “our earth keeps spinning in its orbit in perfect proximity to other planets.” The sun comes up every day. Lilacs in bloom smell wonderful.
Sometimes I have to trick myself into gratitude by thinking of all the bad things that could happen, but haven’t. Lots of people live in war zones. I don’t. I never have to worry about bombs dropping on me. I have plenty of clean water delivered right to my home. My eyes and ears and limbs all work just fine. By the time I get to the cheesecake available down the street, I’m flying high.
Or maybe I’m just feeling a little bit better. Either way, I’ll take it. I know now that if I get feeling better, life will carry me along to better and better feelings. It just takes a little bit of concentration to get pointed in the right direction. Then I can relax and watch for more of the wonders that life will bring to me.
(Photo courtesy of Debi Barton Haverly, @debihaverly)