By Brieanna Knepper
Gratitude. It’s a word that crosses my path at least once a day. I can’t count the number of articles or social media posts I’ve seen about the power of being grateful. With everything going on in the world, it seemed like the right time to pick up a pen and show a little appreciation for what’s good in my life.
I got really excited about this challenge so I tracked down a super cute notebook to express my gratitude in and an assortment of colorful pens, because I’m a dork like that! I listened to a podcast about gratitude and how listing just 4 things each day can have a massive impact on your outlook and mental health. 4 things seemed easy enough and a goal that would not leave me feeling overwhelmed. I wanted to commit to one full week of practicing gratitude instead of just one day.
I decided to do this at night because it felt like a good way to end the day. I set my notebook by my bed and had my pens ready. The first night I opened up to a blank page and thought about my day. I probably over thought my gratitude entries more than I needed to, but I felt like it needed to be “deep” and “meaningful” to count. I wanted it to be this amazingly insightful thing. The ideas didn’t come so easily at first and I felt a lot of resistance. The second night was the same, but by the fourth night I started to be a little more real. While being grateful for the big things is great, it’s just important to be grateful for the small things. Like eating tacos with my husband. Or my cat taking a really long nap on my lap. Heck, even finding toilet paper made the list! It got so much easier when I took the pressure off. The things I felt grateful for came pouring out by day 7 and I usually added more than just 4 things. It felt wonderful to have this positive moment to end the day!
I really wanted to reflect on why I felt a lot of resistance in the beginning. I wasn’t sure why it felt so hard to do. At first I thought I was just trying to hard to make it “perfect”, but I eventually had a deep realization that I was afraid to list the good things in my life. I was afraid that if I put them out into the world that they would some how be taken away from me. My anxiety has trained me to believe that good things don’t last and that I always need to be ready for the other shoe to drop. I thought that by expressing my gratitude it was like giving a roadmap to the universe on what to take away. It’s one of those deep programs that my brain has developed as a way to “protect” me.
Doing this challenge has helped me see that being positive about life and expressing gratitude isn’t an invite for the bad. Life is going to bring bad things on occasion whether or not I’m prepared for them. I’ve realized that I would rather feel joy from the good by being open and inviting rather than holding it in because I’m afraid something bad might happen. Positivity and optimism are much more powerful than worry and fear. Where we put our focus is what we attract, so let those good vibes flow!
Expressing gratitude these last 7 days has brought so much happiness into my life! It’s made me see little moments as wonderful gifts and things that should be celebrated. Being grateful for the taste of the perfect ice to Diet Coke ratio is just as important as being grateful for this wonderous spinning rock we call home. It’s all good! So, I challenge all of you to make a daily list of what your are grateful for and see what changes come from it! I promise it will be worth it!