I remember when it occurred to me that whether I saw my life as good, or whether I saw it as bad, it always came down to the state of mind I was in at that moment, and around the same time in my life, I became aware that my state of mind could be changed dramatically by choosing to be in gratitude.
I had read a bit about neuroplasticity, and I decided to learn how to re-wire my brain. When bad things happened, I tended toward feeling like a victim and powerless against negative life experiences. But I saw grateful people that I knew, and I was aware that it wasn’t because nothing bad ever happened to them, the difference of how they saw their life was only in the spirit in which they chose to live with their hearts.
I started a gratitude journal and planned to write in it every day for a year. I recognized that it’s always easy to feel grateful when things are going well, it’s during the struggles that gratitude is a practice.
I carried my journal with me everywhere in my purse, and I chose feelings of frustration, powerless, anger, fear and sadness to be my trigger emotions to know when I needed to find something to be grateful for.
My very first entry was when the kids were all yelling and there was so much chaos around me I was feeling overwhelmed and frustration was boiling up inside of me. I saw down and I wrote “I’m so glad my kids have voices”. In that moment, that was a lot for me to come up with. I was not ‘feeling’ grateful as I wrote it.
My next entries were similar. At first it was very forced, I had to look hard to find something to be grateful for.
I would write when I was stuck in a line, or stopped at a red light, or if my kids were fighting, and pretty much every time I would be tempted to grumble. Sometimes I would write one thing, but as time went on, it became easier to just keep going.
As I became aware of all of the blessings in my life while I was in challenging moments, a strange and unexpected thing happened: I started to see even the challenges themselves as blessings.
I had successfully re-wired my brain.
I finally understood the old wisdom that there is no good and there is no bad. There just is.
I choose gratitude every day, and I am grateful for every challenge in my life, because it is in every real and hard thing I have gone through in my life that my spirit has grown the most and I have received the only real gifts that are worth anything at all.
2020 has been very challenging. I am having to really be aware and practice gratitude consciously and daily.
This is what I’m grateful for today:
I am grateful for all of the love of friends and family I have. I am grateful for my talents and gifts and I am grateful for the opportunity to share them with you. I am grateful to be going to school to learn about something I love. I am grateful for a strong spirit and for my ability to learn and grow. I am grateful that I love to work. I am grateful for all of the blessings I have already received.
What are you grateful for?