Are you Grateful?
Do you spend a short period of time each day considering the things in your life that you are grateful for? Or do you blithely travel through your life kind of acknowledging when good things happen, but never taking the time to sit and consider their impact on you?
I’m asking this because this month I’ve begun taking part in a social experiment called Health Month created by the Buster Benton (of 43 Things, 750 Words, and a few other websites) with the purpose of having it’s participants commit to follow rules for the month that should in some way improve our lives- committing to eat out only X times a week, limit personal internet time, read more, floss, etc.
One of the rules I made for myself is the list 3-5 things I’m grateful for at least 4x a week.
I’ve never been successful at gratitude exercises and would give up within the first 10 days. This commitment to a month-long try is making me examine WHY I have difficulties with this challenge. I’ve been putting a fairly strict definition on the term “gratitude” – in that I believe these are things that I NOTICE I’m thankful for during the day. I have had very few things where I notice this.
Looking at the definition of “grateful” it says thankful for the benefit received. So in my head I can appreciate the colors of the sunset from my house – but not be thankful for the colors, nor feel that I am receiving any benefit from the sunset. Though, thinking about it at this moment those sunsets usually make me feel something positive and emotional.
How do I word that I’m thankful/grateful for the emotional reaction to the sunset?? I’m NOT thankful for the sunset itself – but for the way it changed/altered my emotional state if even for a moment.
I can also be thankful about something – like the trite Thank Goodness it’s Friday – without feeling that I’ve gained any benefit from it. It’s Friday and that is unalterable. The emotion is more superficial than I was searching for when I took on this rule. When I say TGIF, what I am really being thankful for?
So-FOR ME- the key to something I’m grateful about is that I perceive a benefit- a positive emotion- from the thing at the time it occurs. And I’m discovering that I rarely take the time – mere seconds really- to be in the moment enough to register my emotional reaction to most of my day.
This week, I shall try to be present, shall try to be “in the moment” so I can recognize those positive emotions. This is all babysteps, right?
How about you? Do you do the gratitude thing? Let me know in comments -and take the short poll about Gratitude.