28 Days of Gratitude

eu sou

Have you ever had one of those months, seasons, or years where you’ve felt like you just couldn’t catch a break? Every time you dig out from the latest challenge a new one comes up? It doesn’t have to be traumatic – new opportunities coming up when you’re already feeling spread thin, a big project around the house, an event at your child’s school, etc. Just the relentless passing of time where you’re so busy you have trouble catching your breath.

This is the state I’ve been in for about 9 months (and if I’m honest, I can see a similar pattern going back 2.5 years, and a less obvious but still prevalent pattern going on for my whole adult life). Each new thing that comes up I think, man, if I can just get through this I can regroup and find some level of balance again. But the regrouping from one thing just leads to the need to regroup from another thing, every accomplishment being balanced out by another project or problem taking up the time just saved.

I’ve had so many things take my breath away over the past couple of years that I’m beginning to recognize that it is my perspective on life that is the challenge, not what life is doling out. Now to be fair, there are some genuine challenges that come from sleep deprivation that will get better over time, and when they do I will have a whole new set of resources to rely on to help me take things in stride and not view them as challenges as they come up. This is a huge deal and I do not mean to minimize that in the least. However, there’s also a way of thinking about things that has been keeping me down.

Because here’s the thing — I’ve never been happier. I have so much good in my life, so much love and so many aspects of my larger vision for my life manifesting all over the place. But I’m so depleted that I don’t have much energy left to actually appreciate any of it. There’s a show my boys like to watch called Peg + Cat — each story they uncover a “big problem” and Peg is “totally freaking out!” But then she takes a breath and counts backwards from five and starts to problem-solve. That’s where I was at the start of February when inspiration struck — I would make February my “28 Days of Gratitude” and post daily to Facebook about what I was grateful for each day.

And, of course, I am so grateful that I gave myself this gift! Some days it was easy to come up with many things that I was grateful for, and I could have gone on and on and on if I’d let myself. On my hardest day, my gratitude was about tomorrow being another day. But the overall thing I noticed was that each time I found my thoughts slipping into downward spiral thoughts like “will this ever end?” or “not another thing!” or the like, this practice encouraged me to reframe what was happening, to see the good in it, and if I couldn’t find anything truly good to at least shift gears enough to stop the downward slide. It was still an intense month, but I had a much better attitude to handle what was coming up as it was happening, as well as to reframe it in my mind when I thought about things later.

What a shift. What a relief! Gratitude is one of the simplest tools in our toolbox, and yet it is one of the most powerful ones we have. Nothing will shift your energy faster than finding even the smallest bit of gratitude inside of you. So now the trick is to keep the gratitude flowing. I’ve started making notes about what I appreciate about my husband, and I think I’ll take the time to appreciate myself next. What a gift that will be!

So what’s really bugging you these days? Is there an area of life that feels like it is really pulling you down? Or perhaps you feel like you just can’t get ahead? Whether it’s a small itch that just needs to be scratched or a larger problem that needs solving, try taking a few days, weeks, or even a month to spend some time focusing on what you’re grateful for around it. Even if the only thing that shifts is your energy, you will find that you now have the ability to problem-solve (or even to stop seeing the situation as a problem!) So simple, so powerful, so worth trying! Namaste.

Photo: Eu Sou by jeronimo sanz

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