Your alarm rattles your brain in the morning. You reach over, and hit that snooze button for the fifth time. “What’s the point of getting up today?” You might ask yourself.
What you might not be asking yourself is, “What am I grateful for today?” When you’re down and out, that certainly can be an annoying question that you most likely wouldn’t want to answer. Yet, through my personal experience, others’ stories, and articles of research, it’s proven that being grateful ultimately alters your overall state of being.
Launching into the day with grateful thoughts can seriously boost your mood and attitude; you can then carry those feelings with you all day long. If you need a refresher, take a break in the middle of the day to be grateful for whatever you have in that moment.
There are a couple tricks to helping this stick. Let’s start with the morning. Don’t just passively list a couple things in your head when you wake up like, “oh yeah, I’m grateful for…I dunno…my bed, and my pillow?” It’s extremely helpful if you have a journal, notepad, scrap of paper, so you can help make those things more real. Grab your paper right when you wake up and just jot down a few things that you truly feel grateful for- even if it really is your bed and pillow! Nothing is too small. Notice how you start to feel as you jot things down. Feel free to jot those feelings down as well. Write down as many as you can think of.
I personally struggled with getting up in the morning just a couple years ago. To me, there wasn’t anything to get up for…no activities to do that really sparked my interest, nowhere to go, just…nothing special. I felt miserable. I had no routine to get myself into. And Dave would always have a multitude of activities to keep him busy. This added to my feeling down. I always compared myself to him and what his life was all about. I was completely missing what was right in front of me!
We both stumbled upon this super cool journal called “The Five Minute Journal” about a year ago. It’s a gorgeous, hardcover book which includes an inspiring intro section on how to use it, and pages designed to help you become motivated, on track, and yes, grateful! There are three short sections to fill out for the daytime, actually, right when you wake up: three things you’re grateful for, three things that would make today great, and a daily affirmation. For the evening, you fill out “three amazing things that happened today”, and a section on how you could have improved your day / what you could have done differently. It took me a while to get into the habit of writing in it every day…especially in the morning! I would begrudgingly and drowsy-eyed pick up the book, stare at the page, and just kind of blank out. What on earth was there to be grateful for early in the morning?! Okay, so long story short, I got it. I really got what the little book was about. And it totally shifted my whole perspective on mornings. Not just mornings… being grateful caused a reaction in my brain that helped me with my overall attitude. No longer was I a slave to feeling down.
The fun part is that there are no limits. You don’t just have to write about the big things, but little things count, too! You could be grateful that you’re warm, that you are able to write, that you got your hair cut yesterday….anything! I would often write things like, I’m grateful for my four cats. I’m grateful for my boyfriend, Dave sitting next to me. I’m grateful for the sunshine coming through the window.
I found myself smiling as I wrote.
When finished, I would get up, feeling much happier than I did right when my alarm went off. I would go about the rest of my day making mental notes of all the things that made me grateful. And again, I would smile.
How does this all work, anyway? Aside from all the research, I personally believe that humans as a society are naturally inclined to look at the negatives, to complain, and to find it easier to be down than not. Why? Struggle is the biggest commonality amongst everyone! Jobs, finances, romance…the list is endless. What’s the first thing most do when they get into a conversation? Talk about what’s going on in their life, and what’s not working. We search for that outside sympathy. We have to justify our feelings. Oh, your job sucks, too? Yeah, so does mine, I totally get you. Let me tell you more about how mine really sucks… It’s a vicious cycle that can consume your entire life.
Reality check- It doesn’t have to!! By all means, anytime now, break out! There isn’t any enlightenment in playing a victim, in just agreeing with someone else’s misery, in contributing to the misery bucket that’s most likely overflowing. Instead, share with someone what you’re grateful for. Pause, look around, look in the mirror, see the positive, and talk about gratitude. Lift one another up. There’s so much benefit both physically and emotionally.
Your car breaks down, it’s raining, you’re alone, and your cell phone is nearly dead. What’s there to be grateful for? Be grateful that you’re okay! That you didn’t get into an accident, or injured. Be grateful for the 5% of battery life that’ll get you one call to get you out. The point is, is that there’s always a plus side to the negative- always. The light of gratitude can be found in the darkest of places.
The only moment we have is now. Right now. And, now. Now.
What are you grateful for?
Please check out this link to the Five Minute Journal! And make sure you read my review of it on their page! I promise it’s pretty wonderful.