Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Practicing an Attitude of Gratitude

A couple of weeks ago on my day off from work, I met up with a good friend for lunch.  I had lunch with her shortly after I found out about my move, but we hadn't had a chance to meet up since, so we had lots to catch up on.  I think I held it together last time I saw her as the news of my move was so new and I was still working through my emotions.  Well, at this lunch, the reality of the move had started to set in and I was a bit of a total crying mess. Luckily this friend is a fellow crier so she didn't pass any judgment over the fact that I pretty much cried through our entire lunch - and luckily I was facing the wall of the restaurant so I had some privacy.

Nearly 10 weeks after finding out about this move, I continue to really struggle with it.  Maybe it's the fact that it's being forced on me (yes, I could have said no, but I really couldn't for financial reason).  Maybe it's the fact that I have no control over the timing.  Maybe it's the fact that I am already stressed to the max January-June due to CFA studying and just can't really handle another major life event.  Maybe it is the sum of all of these things.  Whatever the reason -no matter how many times I try to tell myself that it will all work out, that it will be ok, and that this next year won't be a dark phase of my life, I am just really struggling to believe it.

So after my friend listened to my litany of complaints about all the things happening related to the move, she gently recommended that I consider starting a gratitude journal.  She explained how she had kept a gratitude journal during a challenging time in her life and thought I might benefit from it as well.

And she is completely right.  I had received a couple of journals for my birthday, so I decided to make one of them a gratitude journal.



So each night, usually after I finish studying, I think back on the day and come up with 3 moments/things that I am grateful for.   I know that eventually this dark cloud that has been hanging over me will part and I will find it easier to focus on the good things in life - but for right now, it's a conscious exercise to focus on the good.  I am hoping that by focusing on the good things in life, it will help me move past the feelings of anger and resentment that I have been harboring lately.

I don't expect this gratitude journal to make a difference over night.  But hopefully with time, it will help me shift my attitude and become a little more of a "Tigger" and a little less of an "Eyore," as my former boss so succinctly put it in the card he gave me at my going away party.

Have you ever kept a gratitude journal?  Are you good about practicing an attitude of gratitude?  With the exception of difficult times in my life, I feel like I am pretty good at focusing on the positive in life.

28 comments:

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

I think this a great idea that your friend had :) I'm sure your friend feels very powerless right now, because she wants to help and also is probably struggling with her own feelings that she does not want you to move either- it's great that she could give some practical advice that could really help you! I think I speak for all your friends when I say, we really wish we could swoop in, pick you up and pull you right out of this situation.

Becky said...

I don't keep a gratitude journal but I think it's a great idea because you really look back and see all the good that has happened after a bad day/week!

missris said...

I jot down a line or two in my day planner and I love it. It's always nice to look back on and see what fun stuff I was up to on a particular day, and even if I had a bad day I never remember that when I'm reminiscing about something nice that happened.

Marlys said...

Your friend is so wise! I love this idea! We should all do it, I think! The other night we heard a priest speak about praying with scripture, and it was profound. He told us that every day we should wake up and tell God, "Okay, God, whatever happens today is your design and I need you at my side"! If we keep Him close to us each day, He will get us through the tough spots! I am sure it felt good to just let it all out with your friend and that is so healing!

Stephany said...

I think this is a great idea. It's something I've been thinking of doing more for myself, too. I've been struggling to find the silver lining's in many areas of my life so I know finding the positives amidst the struggles can only help!

Barb Geier said...

What a good friend. She listened, allowing you to vent and offered you help with a tangible option. Grasp onto whatever it takes to be kind to yourself. My heart goes out to you EVERY DAY.

Wish I could be home to give you a hug before you go!

Amy said...

My heart hurts for you, friend. I wish there was something that could be done. I tend to be negative sometimes, and I think that practicing gratitude is so important. If you haven't watched Brene Brown on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday, I recommend it (it's online) and she talks about how gratitude is a habit, almost like a muscle. It feels unnatural at first, but most happy people are really good at practicing gratitude. I hope this helps as you make this difficult transition. I'm holding you in my thoughts and prayers.

Jeanie said...

I'm positive, too. Sometimes it really ticks people off because I look that way. But inside, it can be challenging. I'm not doing this now, but yes, I have kept a gratitude journal and did so for many years. Now, even when I go to bed, I don't go to sleep without first thinking of five things that day for which I am grateful. Sometimes they are repetitive -- Lizzie's purr on a particularly loving day, finding the right parking spot (right up close!) at the store on a bad-weather day, a day where my boss didn't fly off the handle at someone (wish I could add that one up more readily!) an unexpected invite from Rick for homemade soup, a day when it didn't snow (again). They aren't all the huge gratefuls (glad that was benign), but a lot of little graces really help pull you through.

I admire your friend for speaking out and sharing that. Face it -- it's a tough deal with the combo of the exam, the packing, just working and then leaving people you love. But you know it does NOT have to be forever. It just has to be now. Hold that one close and be grateful that we do have choice and the wisdom to make choices that are right for us. Smile, my friend. Then cry and buy tissue with lotion.

Allison @ With Faith and Grace said...

Erik and I do something similar. Every night I ask him what his favorite part of his day was, and then he asks me what mine was. It's pretty fun to go to sleep thinking of good things, but I also have heard people recommend that you do it first thing in the morning so that you have something happy to go into the day with. I suppose it would work either way!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

I used to have a gratitude journal, and then I went a little crazy with gratitude one day and filled the entire journal about 3 days after I started it, lol!

Raquelita said...

I have never kept a gratitude journal, but as you are the fourth or fifth friend to have mentioned starting one in the past few weeks I am starting to consider it.

Amber said...

I think this is such a great idea and what a nice way to end your day!

I am a pretty positive person I think. I have had a few difficult things happen in my life over the last few years but nothing super major. I've really shifted my attitude over the last 1-2 years especially to quit fretting over things that have already happened, because you can't change them, and to quit worrying about things that haven't happened yet because you don't know for sure if they will happen. Those are two things I used to really worry about and dwell on and shifting my thinking about them has helped a lot.

Carolina John said...

i've never tried the grattitude journal, but that is a fantastic idea! Anytime you're having a bad day you can always find 3 things that went right.

Hang in there girl. The south will welcome you with open arms.

Marisa A. said...

This is such a great idea, I might steal it. I try to always be appreciative of everything that I have, but sometimes I get caught up in materialism. I think this would be a amazing way to stay grounded.

Nora said...

I love this! I turned my daily planner into a journal as well; I write down three things each day that made me happy or that I did. I love it becuase I can see what happened on that day and it's kind of special to me (and probably only to me.)

Always thinking of you!
xo

Alli said...

Great idea! I'm sure you've heard me say before that I hate when you're going through a tough time and someone yells at you to be grateful. As if, just because you're not thrilled with your life at the moment you don't at the same time realize the good you do have. Those things are not mutually exclusive! There are some ungrateful people in this world and then there are some fall on the sword martyrs, but the vast majority of us know how to both with for more/different in our lives and still be grateful for all that we do have at the same time. I think the gratitude journal is a great way for you to focus on that balance.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

Awww, hon, it really makes me sad to know you're still struggling so much with this move. Maybe it's a good thing we don't live in the same city, because I would very likely have cried through lunch with you. I'm seriously the WORST about crying when my friends are sad. At least you'd be in good, blubbery company, right? ha.

I think we all go through tough times when it's hard to be grateful for much of anything. For some of us, it's just a day here and there. For others, it's a lifetime (ha). I'm generally very aware of all I have in my life and don't get tripped over over the smaller nuisances. I have been known to draw within when making a serious life decision, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm feeling sorry for myself or looking at life as having a bleak outlook.

Hang in there, friend. You're almost there.

tooperfectonpaper said...

The journal is scientifically proven:

http://www.gratitudebeads.org/book-quotes/

Leigh said...

I've never kept a gratitude journal, but I think it's a great idea. When I am in a negative/dark/sad phase in my life, I really struggle to find the positives in every day life. I will definitely try this next time I go through a period like that.

And I agree with Kelly's comment...I wish we could swoop in and pull you out of this situation

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I think your Eyeore days will be behind you after winter gets the heck over, your move is finished, you are settled, and cfa is done. Less stress = more Tigger. ;)

Abby said...

Love this idea. I think I need to do it right now - as this week I've become a bit of an eyore myself. I have no good reason , I'm just in a temporary glum state!

Hope it brings out the tigger in you! I will say sunshine helps!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Sometimes it seems easier in the short run to be an Eyore, but really, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't really help things much. It's much more beneficial to be a Tigger. However, sometimes it's hard! Let yourself have your Eyore moment and then get your Tigger out!

I keep a journal, not so much for gratitude, but to quickly jot down what I did that day. Sometimes I feel like I have been so lazy and I get down on myself, but when you look at it on paper, even things like "went to library" or "ran 6 miles" or "made chili" make me remember that I did do a lot. Maybe it wasn't "took a trip to France", but the little things each day are just as important as the big ones.

Nicole said...

I try to be grateful everday. I don't always write it down but definitely are mindful in prayer of the blessings I have!

PS- I nominated you for the Liebster award!
http://evenme-nicmarie17.blogspot.com/2013/03/more-about-me-liebster-award.html

San said...

I never had a gratitude journal but I think it's a really good idea.

I am so sorry you still struggle so much with this move. Maybe it will all get better once the actual move is behind you and you can focus on getting to know Charlotte and settle into your new home?

You should come and join "happier.com" - it's basically a gratitude app where you share happy moments with your online friends ;)

Linda said...

Gratitude is a daily practice for me. I email my friend every weekday and we exchange 3 happy things. We have a twitter account for a few public thanks: @happy3things.

this practice has changed my life in a profound and deep way. :) hope you get the same out of it!

Cherry Blossoms said...

I used gratitude journals with some of my kids that I had in various support groups while I was working as a school social worker. They def have a big impact on bringing a more positive feeling to any situation/obstacle.
It is so easy to let the negative take over all the happy things we have in life.

Lesli said...

I have one but I have been slacking. Much like I slack on my blog & my personal journal lately--ugh! So I think it would work wonders for me! You just made me decide I need to start writing in it again! I also love the idea of a Gratitude Jar where you put in little slips of paper throughout the year of things you are grateful for & at the end of the year you read them!

Journey Authentically said...

This is a GREAT idea! I know the month of November when I daily thought about what I was thankful for really really helped me during that difficulty of the divorce. Can't believe the move is here but I hope it turns out to be a blessing in disguise!