There seems to be certain times of the year when I find myself feeling an increase of gratitude. These times are usually accompanied by the presence of things that mean the most to me including my family and my faith.
Holidays and those special family occasions can bring a rush of feelings including; gratitude, anticipation and even anxiety and overwhelm. It’s interesting how the things that bring us the most joy can also sometimes bring us the most stress. I don’t know about you but when I let stress and overwhelm start to creep in and overtake me, sometimes it gets hard to get rid of those feelings. I have found that gratitude is my secret weapon.
Gratitude to the Rescue
There are many ways that people practice gratitude. The one thing all these different practices do is help you change your mindset. You can take a situation that may seem to be all consuming, overwhelming and difficult and just by introducing some thoughts of gratitude you can see a spark of light that brings in hope and joy.
I’d like to share one of my favorite gratitude practices. It’s a practice that helps me banish the overwhelm.
This is a writing exercise, so take out a pen and a piece of paper, actually take out 5 pieces.
Start by writing one of the following titles on each piece of paper:
- Material Things
Under each title number the page 1-20, that’s right 20 things in 5 categories will be 100 things you are grateful for!
Sometimes, you may look at the page and know you need to make a list of 20 things and your mind suddenly becomes blank. Just keep your pen on the paper and wait for it, eventually your brain will start to cooperate and your get a rush of thoughts that you may not be able to keep up with.
Let’s define each category to help you get started.
This can mean any physical attribute that you are grateful for or something that you can physically do. For example: I’m grateful for eyes that can see and the ability to read.
This can be a list of names but can also be a list of things you do with your family. For example: I am grateful for my Grandma and grateful for holiday traditions.
This can start to feel like the family category but this would also include people outside of your family and even relationships that you have that aren’t with people. For example: I am grateful for my next door neighbor and for my sweet dog who comforts me when I’m feeling sad.
This is all those things that you are happy you don’t have to go through life without, the things that sometimes we take for granted.
This are the things that are present in your life that may not be physically seen but are a deeply important part of your life. For example: I am grateful for my belief in God and my knowledge of the power of prayer.
When you are finished with this exercise you will have a beautiful list of 100 things you are thankful for. Keep this list for those moments that come when you begin to feel the overwhelm creeping in on you, when life is more dark than light and when nothing seems to be going right.
When I have times like that, I take out my list and begin to read and within just a few minutes my outlook begins to change, my heart lightens and that rush of gratitude spills over me.
Gratitude is powerful!
*Gratitude Mandala by Donna Gentile