Actively Practice Gratitude – Especially When You Don’t Feel Like It
About three years ago, I was in the middle of a really long, hard fight for my daughter’s life. She had cancer, and we were battling a relapse. It was New Year’s Eve 2017, and I remember sitting there, feeling really sad, scared, and pissed off that our lives had been commandeered by cancer. I noticed that I always felt as though I was walking around defeated. I hated it. I had always seen myself as a strong person, and this didn’t feel strong. But “being stronger” didn’t seem like the antidote to how I was feeling.
It dawned on me as I sat on my couch that night, surrounded by my family and next to my bald baby girl, that I still had so much to be grateful for, despite how much my current circumstances sucked.
As I thought about it more and more, I came to the belief that my heart could not simultaneously feel gratitude and anger. Or gratitude and despair. Sure, I could still feel each of those low emotions, but not at the same time as gratitude.
That is when I started the practice of actively cultivating gratitude. What’s the difference between actively cultivating gratitude and just being grateful? Many of us feel grateful in response to happy things that happen in our everyday lives. But how many of us choose something to be grateful for before we feel it? Let me restate that. The difference is you choose gratitude before you feel it.
I started that year choosing gratitude. I even started posting often to Instagram using #yearofgratitude. Those simple acts brought me so much peace in a year that ended up being the hardest of my life. I lost my girl to cancer that year, but my gratitude continued throughout. I kept practicing even as I faced the toughest choices, lived all our lasts together, planned a funeral, and mourned her.
In the last couple of weeks, as times around COVID-19 got intense, I committed to reintroducing this habit in my life. I like to say that I’ve kept it up completely, but we’ve adopted a new normal life, and things aren’t as “hard.” I know now it’s time to bring it back. It’s so easy to identify the things that are hard right now, but I know that I still have so much to be grateful for. Honestly, the world needs this energy right now. I challenge you to adopt your own gratitude practice. Let it spread. I promise you’ll be amazed by how it impacts you and others.
ITN Success Coach
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