|So thankful I get to wake up to this little face.|
I'm two days into my gratitude challenge. Just to reiterate, I've been waking up every morning and immediately writing down five things I'm thankful for. Then throughout the day I set reminders for myself to write down more things I'm thankful for. Before I go to bed I write down five more things. The point is to create a grateful attitude and see how it makes a difference in my life. Also, when I say "write down" I really mean "type in a Google doc" because it's faster.
Here are some general observations from this challenge, in no particular order:
- Sometimes after I write down something I'm thankful for, I immediately have a negative thought about it. For instance, I was thinking about how grateful I am that so many friends gave me free stuff for my apartment: DVD player, TV, furniture, etc. Then I felt embarrassed that I couldn't just go out and buy all that stuff. I kept thinking I should be in a place where I can afford to buy a fancy, expensive TV. I had to remind myself to stop should-ing all over myself.
- Thinking about all the really unique, happy moments in my life (places I’ve traveled, friendships I’ve made, adventures I've had) makes my heart dance a little because it reminds me that you never know what life will bring your way. Never in a million years did I think I’d make genuine, amazing friends at a karaoke bar in L.A. or travel to places like Italy and the Bahamas. Or get a puppy that stole my heart. You just never know how life is going to surprise you.
- I've also been telling people the reasons I'm grateful for them, and I have to say, it always gets me a little choked up. I think this is definitely what I'm most grateful for in life--amazing human connections. I find I even feel that way toward those who are no longer in my life. I know they were a part of my life for a reason, and that just fills my heart with gratitude.
- Sometimes it’s exhausting to be in a constant state of gratitude. Sometimes it feels like a chore. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m suppose to be grateful for this. Blah, blah blah." That exact thought has run through my brain a few times. It’s hard to appreciate the basics--like a bed. I'll tell myself I'm thankful for my awesome bed, but my feelings of gratitude aren't that strong because I live in a part of the world where most people have beds. It doesn't feel special. I've seen homeless people in this city sleeping on beds! Getting my basic needs met doesn't ignite the same amount of gratitude that my friendships give me. It's odd. Maybe I need to take a trip to a third world country. Or go camping. I bet that would make me happy about my warm bed.
- Then the exact opposite will happen. While sometimes gratitude feels like a chore, other times I can’t type fast enough because there are so many things I’m thankful for. Something will click and I just start reflecting on all the gifts in my life. Sometimes I will even feel an overwhelming sense of joy for what seems like no reason. I won't even be thinking about gratitude and then POW! I feel joyful. This happened a few times while walking down the hallway at work. It felt like it came out of nowhere, but maybe this gratitude thing is contributing to it.
- This sometimes becomes an exercise in mindfulness because when my gratitude reminder goes off on my computer, I immediately start thinking about what I'm grateful for in that moment. It keeps me living in the present moment instead of worrying about the future or fretting about the past.
- Again, it's interesting to see how many negative thoughts go through my brain in a day, and I consider myself to be a relatively positive person. When I wake up in the morning, my first thoughts are usually something like this: I'm tired. I don't want to walk Sam. I don't feel like getting ready for work. I hate this apartment. I don't have anything to make for lunch. etc etc. That kind of talk really sets the tone for the day. So it's been helpful to wake up and make myself write down five things I'm grateful for. It's sometimes hard because I'm so groggy, but I'm usually able to think of things like: I'm thankful for my fluffy pillow and Sammy's little face and the fact that I have a job I like going to and the awesome L.A. weather and the smell of the coffee I'm about to brew.
So there you have it. It's only day two and I'm learning a lot. I'll keep you posted throughout the rest of the month. Thanks for reading, folks. I'm off to bed early tonight. I took a spin class for the first time in 10 years, and it kicked my ass in ways I didn't know it could be kicked.