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Practicing gratitude is a fairly new concept to me. I mean, I’m grateful for stuff, but aren’t we all? Yet when I stopped to ponder specific things I was thankful for, sometimes I struggled to come up with more than a few. “I’m thankful for this – BUT …”
A little over 4 years ago I made a blogging friend who called herself The Gr8tful Chick. Her real name is Larissa, and she is one of the most positive people I have ever encountered. When we first connected she posted 3 things she was grateful for on social media every night. That may not seem extraordinary in and of itself, until you learn that her husband has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Not only are they continuing to be grateful and positive through the storm, they view his diagnosis as a ministry! She consistently teaches people how to practice gratitude. It took me four years to really figure out what she meant by that, but let me tell you, it has been life-changing.
Inspired by Larissa, I started adding a Gratitude Log to my monthly bullet journal spread in April of this year. I wrote down one thing I was grateful for each day. It seemed like such a small thing, but the cart of actually stopping to ponder what I was grateful for started a major shift in my perspective.
This past month has been pretty rough for me and my family. My uncle has been battling lung cancer for over a year and was told his treatments had been almost miraculous in shrinking his tumors. He got a second opinion about a month ago and was devastated to discover that not only was the cancer still there, it had spread to several other areas. His passing was traumatic and shook our family to the core.
Those events inspired me to take care of a health issue I had been ignoring, which led to a cancer scare of my own. After a little over a week of tests and doctor appointments I found out that I was totally in the clear with nothing to worry about, but that week of not knowing is one of the hardest I have ever lived through.
Facing my own mortality and coming out with a clean bill of health has made me grateful in a way I have never experienced before. Every morning when I open my eyes I breathe a prayer of thanks for another day. When our basement flooded the same day my uncle passed away I thanked God that I owned a home. When I found out that I didn’t actually have cancer I determined that I was done taking the little things for granted.
I recently picked up the book Simple Joys by Candace Payne. If that name doesn’t ring a bell I bet you remember her viral video where she tried on a Chewbacca mask and laughed herself silly. I didn’t really know her story so I was curious to read the book. In it she says joy can always be found when you learn not to take yourself so seriously.
As you read through this book I want you to become a prospector for joy. My hope for you is that you begin digging in unearthed places to discover pure joy – just as eagerly as you would dig for pure gold.
This book fell into my hands at exactly the right time. I laughed and cried my way through the first two chapters as she told stories of tragedy and fear, and how she learned to find joy again.
No matter what comes – the fear of days unknown or uncertainty with health and finances – there’s power in standing up to whatever you’re facing with a smile and a laugh. There’s a deep confidence that confesses, “This is not the end of my story, and it won’t be the worst of it, either!”
I am still practicing gratitude daily. Not only do I keep a monthly bullet journal spread, I am more mindful of it as my day goes on. Instead of being irritated when someone cuts me off, I’m thankful I’m not in a hurry to be anywhere. Instead of bemoaning the cold weather that is slowly creeping in, I breathe a little deeper and savor the wind on my face.
Practicing gratitude can improve your physical and mental health, and even help you sleep better. Whether you jot down one thing you are thankful for, or just spend a little more time appreciating the small things, I would encourage you to start practicing gratitude today.