Although I have certainly felt gratitude many times in my life, I haven’t always lived with an attitude of gratitude. It really is quite different. I titled this post “Gratitude Journal – Chapter 1” because, even though I’ve written about gratitude in earlier posts on this blog, I’d like to share more in-depth thoughts about how cultivating an attitude of gratitude has helped me with so many things that I didn’t even realize were connected to gratitude. The things I have read have helped me so I’m hopeful that something I write will help someone else.
Somewhere during the last 15 or so years, when I was doing a lot of soul-searching I first read about living with an attitude of gratitude in a book by Dr. Wayne Dyer (I read many of his books so I don’t remember which one). This isn’t just sporadic thankfulness in response to good things that happen in your life – this is gratitude for life in general. It is even gratitude for challenges you have to face. It is actually a way of life. I was intrigued by this idea because I realized that most people I know are like me – grateful when something “good” happens or when we get something we wished for but then quickly moving on to the next shiny object. We give lip service to being thankful for our “blessings” but we don’t have deep, sustained feelings of gratitude.
Most of us don’t spend a lot of time in the present moment because our thoughts are always in the past or future and I became hyper aware of how much time I spent living in the future while reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now“. I was inspired by that book to try to change my way of thinking because I realized it was causing unhappiness and discontent. I learned that it is impossible (at least for me!) to always live in the present moment but focusing on gratitude is part of living in the present and can be a way to more contentment, peace of mind and even self-love. It dawned on me that cultivating genuine gratitude could be the antidote to my restless nature and the perfect balm for dealing with disappointment.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that it’s not easy to cultivate an attitude of gratitude when you’re used to always making plans for the “next thing” so I’ve had lots of stops, starts and detours on this particular journey. I spent 30+ years of my adult life being a goal-oriented planner at work and a restless malcontent in my personal life. I knew it would take a lot of conscious effort to change such a deeply entrenched way of thinking but, I wanted to be happier and feel more contentment so I took the challenge. I started small with a daily gratitude journal. Gradually, as I became more immersed in this “gratitude experiment”, I realized that I was even becoming kinder to myself and more comfortable with who I am. I was actually grateful for ME!
As you allow your thoughts to marinate in this warm bath of gratitude, you’ll start to feel the contentment seep into your pores. You’ll experience things in a new way. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude has led me to glorious moments of joy – not just pleasure or happiness, actual JOY. In future “Gratitude Journal” posts I’ll share some of those moments with you. Gratitude has helped me overcome times of grief, disappointment and loneliness and I believe it will help me deal with whatever hardships I may have to face in the future. That’s how much it has affected me.
I’m very grateful for all 70 followers of this blog! You are obviously individuals of great intelligence and excellent taste 🙂
“The struggle ends when the gratitude begins.” ~Neale Donald Walsch
for my artwork and books visit www.lyndalinke.com