Today’s topic is gratitude, what is it, how to use it, and what it is good for. Namely, is it some crystal-pyramid-unicorn-touting-touchy-feely concept so many life coaches and feel good evangelists tout as a viable way to find better harmony within yourself or is it being used as a gateway for products and services that you do not need but are constantly told you do? Or can you skip the shamans and their wares and change your life by applying daily doses of gratitude on your own?
If you define: gratitude and use the drop down drawer below the definition in Google, you will see the following:
What’s interesting to me is not word use dipped over time, but the uptick that begins in about the year 2000, roughly when we started becoming more public with our new agey ways of life.
I will be the first to admit when it comes to crystal-pyramid-unicorn-touting-touchy-feely concepts, I am skeptical. But, I do not see the harm in trying something to see if it fits your lifestyle and if it helps? Who cares if it comes covered in sparkles and dragon semen. And as we all know, I am a big fan of not following convention.
Back in December, I decided to start exploring the concept of making myself happy, which did not get the kick off I wanted. But that’s okay, life is about being able to roll with the changes and being as fluid as possible.
But that does not mean I’m not always thinking about ways to make my inner life more pleasurable, centered, and overall better. As someone who cannot metabolize 99.99% of the drugs on the market for my various gifts (Bipolar, ADHD, anxiety), it is imperative to me to find non-drug ways to get my brain in order.
Cutting out caffeine from my diet and doing my daily morning five minute meditation, when I remember, has helped tremendously. But this is often not enough. My gifts creep up when I least expect them and even being cognizant of your maladies is often not enough to keep the demons at bay. Thus, I’ll try anything once.
Sometimes twice, just to make sure I really like it.
I recently came across an article on how to be happier in 5 minutes a day. The idea is pretty simple: You spend $30 on a pre-fabbed notebook, answer the prompts, and viola! Happiness is all yours.
But only if you shell out for the $30 notebook first. Of course.
Now I collect notebooks like crazy such as any project needs its own notebook, and yes! This time, I will start a paper journal and keep it forever. And look! These were on sale!
You know how it is.
So instead of splashing out on yet another notebook that I would use for two days, I made my own. I pulled out an old Moleskine I had repurposed for other projects and was a bit on the falling apart side, so it was perfect for the project. I used colored fountain pens, calligraphy markers, and Sharpies to plan out the journal. I created a title page and index pages to act as a table of contents. I figured if I kept this going for the remainder of 2014, I’d need enough space to allow for the growing table of contents.
After the index was completed, I used a wide tip calligraphy marker to print out the DATE at the top of each page, and then starting from the bottom up, every five to six lines would be a new prompt.
Thankfully, the article had an image of what the inside look like and the prompts seemed easy enough.
- Three things I am grateful for
- What would make today awesome
- A daily affirmation
- Three amazing things that happened
- How could I have made today better
In the bought-for journal, at the top of the page is some prescribed quote and a weekly challenge. In my version, I left the space intentionally blank. I decided to add a quote, image, or something that caught my eye for the day. The idea then being putting it next to your bed and writing in it in the morning first thing and at night, as the last thing. This is not to be a roundup of what I did all day and etc, but just little capsules of things that you experience every day and are grateful for.
I spent an evening putting it together and while it looks like a Life Saver exploded on the pages, I decided to give it a go for a few weeks and see how I felt.
(I just noticed I put “sexy dreams” as something I was grateful for within five days of each other. What can I say, I really like my sexy dreams. Even more so when mine seem to have a rotating cast of characters.)
The first few days I found myself kind of halting about what to put down, especially in the “Three Amazing Things That Happened” prompt because I am not someone who goes around saying “amazing,” more like “brilliant.” (Note to self, change “amazing” to “brilliant” in the next version.)
The “Daily Affirmation” prompt turned out to be quizzical at first because I was determined to not write trite cliched shit or spend 900 hours looking up inspirational quotes on the internets. I wanted it to be things that I believed in and felt were true to me, and would come naturally from within. That turned out to be the easiest prompt to fill in when I thought for sure it was going to to be the hardest.
So nearly a week in and I found myself thinking more about the things that I have rather than the things that I want. This is a huge change in thought for me, because if there is one constant in my life it is that I am always on the lookout for the next THING no matter what it is. Finding a way to step back and learning to appreciate what I have is tantamount to my inner world.
Do I feel joy, inner divinity, and oneness with the world? Not quite, but I can see how just spending five minutes a day writing down what is important to me (obviously sexy dreams) and daily reminders of what it means to be me, even if it sounds hokey, is possibly turning out to be a very good thing.
P.S. If you have ever watched Spartacus, how the characters often said “gratitude” is running through my brain as I wrote this piece.