Gratitude – The Practice

Start simple.

Start with the big-ticket items: your home, your car.

Start with the minutiae: clean sheets, the smell of bacon.

Start with the people: parents, friends, work colleagues, children, lovers.

Start with places: the mountains, the ocean, your favorite taquería.

Start with nature: flowers, animals, rainbows.

Maybe it’s the ordinary and ubiquitous: paper clips and post-its.

Maybe it’s the extraordinary: fireworks and Cirque du Soleil.

Maybe it’s a sound: a child’s laughter, the music of the ice cream truck.

Maybe it’s tactile: your fluffy cat’s fur, or the fit of a loved one’s hand in yours.

It doesn’t matter where you start. Just start.

The world is a wonder. There is so much in it that is good, beautiful, joy-inducing, delicious, pleasurable. It’s easy to forget this in the midst of suffering. It’s easy to shut all of it out, to become deaf and blind to it.

I began my gratitude practice online a few years ago. I posted a list of two to five things I was grateful for, almost daily. Everything from the simple to the sublime. I was following the example of a friend, and was enjoying her Facebook posts so much, I decided to try this practice for myself. It did wonders for my mood and spirit.

These days, I keep a gratitude journal of sorts. I typically make an entry at the beginning of the day, but sometimes not until the end. I look back on the previous twenty-four hours and identify a few things or people or experiences that moved me into gratitude.

At first it felt a little forced. But after a few weeks of consistently noticing and acknowledging my gratitude, it began to flow very easily from my pen or on my laptop.

When I’m not feeling particularly enthusiastic about getting out of bed (which still happens from time to time), I try to get curious about what the day might bring in spite of my lackluster mood. “Go ahead!” I challenge the Universe. “I bet you can’t put anything in my path to make me feel grateful!”

And you know what? The Universe loves a dare. And the Universe (more often than not) is happy to oblige.


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