It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.
By now many of us have heard of the benefits of gratitude. As a positive psychology practitioner myself, I’ve long championed the gifts of keeping a gratitude journal to some of my clients, and for years I’ve ended my day listing 3 things that I’m grateful for. But recently I’ve realized that merely listing what we’re grateful for isn’t enough.
Gratitude lists may engage us cognitively but over time can become just another rote activity like brushing our teeth. The key is not just to note what we’re grateful for, but to emotionally and physically feel what we’re grateful for. Doing so allows us to “receive” and be nourished by the people, things and experiences we’ve noted.
For instance, I’ve often listed my husband in my daily gratitude journal, but rarely took the extra moment to feel grateful for him – to let the recognition of his patience, his support and steadfast love warm my heart. Not cool. So now, when I write his name on my gratitude list, I take a moment to reflect on exactly what quality of his that day I’m appreciating and how it makes me feel. He’ll be the first to tell you that we’ve both benefitted from my making that shift!
These days, my daily gratitude list tends to be shorter but richer. After I write down the items from my day that I’m grateful for it, I take a few seconds to truly savor each one. I recall the rich flavor of my morning latte, pause and smile as I reflect on my neighbor’s recent kindness, and feel awe when remembering the birds that lyrically sang outside my window as I wrote this post.
So dear reader, the next time you notice something you’re grateful for don’t just list it….love it.