Stoney, this old guy in charge of that meeting always wanted to talk about gratitude. Every Friday evening: gratitude.
Every time he announced it, I rolled my eyes.
Then I listened for an hour as people talked about all the things they were grateful for. It sounded to me like a litany of things that were going their way. It didn’t have much oomph for me.
Even though everyone, even Oprah, said gratitude lists were the key to nirvana.
I had even tried to make a list once and it was ridiculous. It didn’t feel good at all. So what, I thought. I have a roof over my head. I know. It’s awesome. A shit ton of people don’t. I should be grateful. And I am. Really.
But why does this matter? How does this help anyone?
I still felt like existential shit.
That was back when I still thought things like joy and freedom were secondary pursuits.
Cue to today, 10 years later.
I’m totally into gratitude. Real gratitude. I don’t try to beat myself into guiltitude by comparing myself to those less fortunate.
According to a scientific poll on Facebook, many people bristle with the idea of gratitude because it’s associated with shame and should. You should be grateful. You should be grateful. You should be grateful. And if you’re not, you’re a SELFISH, SHAMEFUL LOSERRRRRRR.
Or so the voices say.
Down with guiltitude. Up with gratitude. Here’s how I’ve created a gratitude practice with oomph and joy.
Every night, Lula and I talk about our 5 favorite things from that day.
Here’s what’s almost always on my list:
1. Cuddling or playing with Lula and Max.
2. Kissing David.
3. Talking to my client(s)
5. Something related to stretching myself, usually involving creating or facing fears.
Here’s what’s always on Lula’s list:
Every night she says this and every night I make her come up with more things. Poop only counts as one thing.
What’s rarely on either of our lists: watching TV, eating, complaining, Facebook.
Here’s why this gratitude practice is so meaningful.
We’re reviewing each day. Looking for what’s good helps us focus on what’s good.
The same things are usually on it. This shows me in a real way what’s important to me and what’s not. I love that the things that are on there each day are also the things most important to me in life overall: kids, my marriage, coaching, creating, moving.
When one or two of those things aren’t on the list, I notice. If I didn’t love kissing David that day, why not? If I didn’t cuddle with the kids, I see it. If being with my clients wasn’t a highlight, why not?
It’s not about making a list of all of the things going my way. That’s dangerous because where’s my gratitude when things don’t go my way?
How about you? How do you feel about gratitude? Pro or con? And how do you practice?
p.s. Shiny Object School starts October 17. Take a test drive with a free Anti Procrastination Sessions. Apply here.