Practicing Gratitude

All right guys. Last week, I wrote about how I was grateful that my nephew was okay after he was rushed to the hospital the week before because he had stopped breathing, turned blue, and was having seizures. Nothing is wrong. He’s fine. He’ll continue to be fine. We don’t have to worry.

But all too often, I forget that things will be fine. Because, daily, things tend to really suck.

“The world is a garbage fire.”

“Everything sucks.”

“Fuck everyone.”

These are things I sometimes (I’m not going to admit how often) think in my brain. Why? Because things are hard. People make then hard(er). Things pile on. Things get worse. And I (we) forget that things will be fine.

(Okay, I’m going to pause right quick and note that some things will NOT be fine. I used to think: “things always turn out fine in the end.” Dooodes, I was SO wrong. Sometimes, everything sucks. Bad things happen that profoundly change your world forever in a bad way. I learned this when my aunt died after battling cancer for a little over four months. It was the longest four months of my life. It was drawn out and excruciating. Those four months were a blur. It was so sudden. So, sometimes, things do not turn out fine. Barring this type of situation though, lots of stuff does turn out fine in the end.)

What I want to think about (and that’s what I’m doing by writing this blog: thinking things through for myself to learn hoping that you guys like it and think a little too) is how I can take a step back and learn to deal when things are tough. Normal tough though, like work being difficult, people being difficult, or run of the mill stuff that we have to deal with on the regular.

I think one answer can be to practice gratitude more often.

Right now y’all, birds are chirping outside. It’s a beautiful day here in sunny California. I got to sleep in. I played with my cat, Molly, and my dog. Betty (Marco, my other cat, was being a bit of a handful so I told him to go take a nap). And I’m WRITING! I LOVE to write. It feels good and natural and hard and lots of other super cheesy things.

I can easily bitch right now. I can list a bunch of stuff that sucks. But I don’t want to. I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole of negativity. I want to stay positive right now.

So, here’s what I propose: let’s practice gratitude daily. Let’s not get swept up in the garbage fire of daily life. Let’s pause. Let’s reflect on how things aren’t all bad. And let’s acknowledge that some stuff is pretty okay.

Here are a few ways I want to start:

  1. Three Things.

Here’s how this one works: every day express three things that you’re grateful for. I’ve heard that some people do this at the dinner table with their families. I’m not going to assume that you all eat dinner together with a family. Maybe you don’t have one. Maybe you don’t eat together. I don’t know you.

Find a way to acknowledge three things. If can be to someone, like a family member or a friend. I can be on Twitter or Facebook or some other online social tool you use (#3things). Or it can be in private. Write it down somewhere. Or simply stop, think about three things, and let them sink in.

  1. Say “thank you” more.

This one’s simple you guys. Be nice. Be polite. Tell someone that did something nice for you that you appreciate it. I can be a quick comment or a text. Whatever works. And do it for all kinds of things. If someone helps you at work, take a moment and let that person know that you recognize their help. If someone takes you out to dinner or makes you food, say “thank you.” It took time for them to do that. Don’t take that action for granted. They may stop if you do.

2a. Do a Big Thank You.

I’m making this a subcategory because I’m building off of the previous idea. We can express gratitude more often, but it can become more of a gesture and less sincere very quickly. Try, when applicable, to do a Big Thank You. This is when you take a quick minute to express in a little more detail exactly what a person did for you that was awesome. If someone helped you with a project you were working on, send them an email. Don’t make it too long. Note one or two details about the work they helped with and why their help mattered. This takes so little time, but it makes a BIG impact. That’s why it’s called the Big Thank you.

  1. Do something nice for someone.

Putting nice things out into the world for other people feels good. I don’t believe in karma or anything like that. But doing nice things feels nice, and sometimes people return the favor. Recently, I had a co-worker who was stressing out over a big project she was working on. I took some time to help her. I did a few things that made a big impact on her mood. It helped get the project done. And it didn’t take much effort on my part to make a big impact on her.

Do more nice things. Rub someone’s back. Get them a glass of water. Help them with a project. Big or small, these things matter.

3a. Do something nice for yourself.

I’ve heard people say before something like, “I wish someone would                for me.” I dunno what the blank is. Something nice. “buy me flowers” or “take me somewhere.” My thought has always been, “Why don’t you do it for yourself?”

Recently, I bought myself flowers because I was having a bad day. People were making things harder than they needed to be. So, while I was at the store, I bought flowers because when I looked at them, they made me smile. I posted online how I had done this, and some people were shocked that I bought flowers for myself. Why? Why aren’t more people doing this?

If you’re stressed out, tired, upset, or whatever, do something nice for yourself. It can be flowers. It can be a cup of coffee. Take yourself to the movies or sit at home and watch a movie on your own. Take care of yourself more often (rather than hoping someone will do it for you.)

That’s where I’m going to start. I’m going to try to be more mindful this week and practice being more grateful for others and myself. I’m going to be honest. It may be difficult. But I’m gonna try. Please try with me.

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