Maybe it’s a common suggestion, or maybe people think I am just a brat, but over the years I have occasionally been given the assignment of making a gratitude list. Sounds easy enough, but for some reason my lists are pretty trite. Just the standard stuff that most anyone would be grateful for (homes, kids, pets, jobs, vacations, spouse, etc.). I have to say that I have never experienced the warm fuzzies I was expecting as a result of such an exercise.
I don’t think you can really do a gratitude list wrong, but I was given a similar assignment more recently and the way they broke it down made a world of difference. I thought, “now that, I can do!” I formulated a new type of “list” and have been making those lists regularly ever since.
As a result, I am happy to report that I have even been able to capture a few warm fuzzies.
So what is this revolutionary gratitude list of which I speak?
For starters, it is less like a grocery list and more like, well, a Soul-Selfie Blog post. The main shift in my brain came when it was suggested to me that it is an issue of quality vs quantity. My list may only have one or two items on it, but the items are full, rich and impactful. Instead of merely rattling off people, places or things I am grateful for, the goal is to focus on more soul-level stuff.
Soul-level stuff, for me, might look like a conversation about faith and doubt with a co-worker, a sweet connection with an old friend on facebook, someone who reached out to tell me that my blogs encourage them, or the realization that I don’t feel contempt or angst in my heart when I hear that person’s name.
Or maybe it’s realizing that I have finally had a long awaited transformation or psychic change (more on that in a blog to come): I don’t have my usual angry reaction to things that don’t go my way (flat tires, home deals falling through, kids getting sick, etc.), I “get over it” more quickly when my feelings are hurt, I stop taking things personally that have nothing to do with me, or I realize I don’t beat myself up so badly when I do dumb things or make mistakes.
All these examples are new ways I can choose to live with gratitude (the word used for having a grateful attitude) rather than battitude (my cheeky made-up word for having a bad attitude 😏).
And just in case you don’t get the warm fuzzies from trying this new method, maybe try the pessimists’ version. You know who you are. Those who tend to think of the cup half-empty as a general rule. Never fear…you too can learn to make a new kind of gratitude list!
You get to put all things that “are not” on your pretty little list. Maybe every sentence starts with “At least…”:
At least I don’t have Leukemia anymore
At least I don’t have to work on Thanksgiving
At least “so and so” does have to work on Thanksgiving and won’t be able to come to dinner
At least I have a job
At least I have legs (even if I don’t love the look of them!)
At least my kids aren’t in jail
At least I don’t have to live that way anymore
At least I can FaceTime/zoom with my kids who live across the country
Thank you God, Amen.
Whichever way you choose, even if it’s the grocery list version, just make sure you do it. In your head is good, but on paper is better. I have often caught myself complaining about certain people or situations, only to re-read my gratitude list and realize they are the same! In that case, it’s all about mindset and perspective. Being grateful is always a choice.
So today, I will be that bossy person that strongly urges you to take a few minutes to reflect and create a type of gratitude list that grabs hold of your heart and creates a habit.
“Gratitude enables us to savor the unrecognized good that surrounds us, no matter what the circumstances. As we become accustomed to noticing the positive aspects of our lives, we begin to recognize small, subtle gifts and cloaked opportunities when they appear in our day-to-day experiences.”