Lessons Learned While Practicing Gratitude as part of a 30 day gratitude challenge.

Lessons Learned While Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude.

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful. It is a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. There have been numerous recent (and probably old ones as well) studies that show how practicing gratitude each day is good for our mental health.

December tends to be a whirlwind of activity for me (and I would guess the same for many others). I have a tendency toward anxiety during stressful times. My anxiety expresses itself in many ways. I tend to nag more, to lose my temper more, to become more fearful of the “what-ifs”, which in turn makes me more controlling (see the first two items for the issue with this), and generally want to disengage from the chaos swirling around me.

Practicing Gratitude

That is why I decided that December’s Challenge would be the perfect month for me to spend practicing gratitude. Each monthly challenge forces my personal growth a little more. This month was no exception.

Tulips in the Museumplein in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gratitude Challenge.

The best way for me to participate in a gratitude challenge was to follow a prompt. I chose this one that I found on Pinterest. I wasn’t sure how I would capture my daily gratitude only that I would capture it in a concrete way each day.

How I Practiced Gratitude.

In the end, my concrete form was a photo or video posted to my Instagram story each day. I did take photos with my camera most days as well. Originally, I had planned to keep a gratitude journal because most things I read talk about the benefits of journaling, especially journaling about gratitude. Journaling my gratitude over the 30 days did occur. The problem with my journaling scenario was that I’d think about the prompt throughout the day, journal it most days, but some days I’d just crash into bed and then journal it the next morning. Around day 20, the daily portion became even more sporadic as to when I’d fill it in. This may or may not (definitely may) coincide with the fact that my kids began their winter break and we were rapidly approaching Christmas.

Tulips in the Museumplein in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Lessons Learned About Gratitude.

Over the course of the 30 days I picked up a few personal lessons about gratitude and journaling. I thought I’d share some in case you find them helpful.

  • If you’re thinking about what you want to journal, just stop and journal it. Otherwise, you might find yourself too tired and skipping journaling all the things you’d found to be grateful for over the course of the day.
  • Even though I chose to focus on a daily prompt, I still found myself thinking of all the other things in my life that brought out my gratitude.
  • If you feel compelled, list more things that you are grateful for, even if you are doing a daily prompt.
  • Don’t edit your gratitude. This is a personal journey and journal. You don’t have to share it with the world. Unless you want to…then by all means…do.
  • Practicing gratitude helps keep the anxiety levels down.
  • Practicing gratitude really does help you keep the important things in life in perspective.
  • There’s always  something to be grateful for.

 

These are just a few of the lessons that I learned during my 30 days of practicing gratitude. I haven’t given up on journaling and will continue to try to have it become a habit. Recently, I read at this website, Greater Good in Action (a collaboration between UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and HopeLab), that writing in a gratitude journal three times a week (1-3 times it says deeper in the article) might have a greater impact on our happiness than journaling every day.

That might be a good place for me to start.

Practicing Gratitude In Action.

As a result of each of these daily concrete examples of practicing gratitude, I decided to make a YouTube video of the clips from my 30 days of gratitude. I’m still learning how to make the edits, so I don’t know how to add music to a video on some clips and leave the talking on others. Maybe that should be a challenge for myself this year?

Hey… we’re all works in progress, right?!

Do you practice daily gratitude?

What are you most grateful for today?

Even though I’m on day 3 of my January Challengeit’s never to late to join along.

The Real Gift of Gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become. - Robert Holden

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

wpc: growth

 

Friday Faves edition 44

Friday Faves – Edition 44

It’s Friday.

I can’t begin to tell you how relieved that I am that it is Friday. This has been an exhausting week. Mostly because I’ve spent most of it in that “bordering on sick” phase.

You know, the phase where you’re coughing, congested, and have general feelings of malaise, but since you aren’t bedridden, nobody actually thinks that you are sick.

Yeah…that’s been me.

Given this fact and that it’s a busy time of year, participating in this Gratitude Challenge has kept me in a mostly good mental space.

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Faves that the flurries of snow had begun, but weren’t expected to stick. As the evening wore on, the snowfall picked up.

The snow continued and began to stick to the ground.

First Snow.

We awoke to a blanket of snow. Not enough for sledding or snow angels, but enough to cover most of the dull brown. Miss Sunshine wanted to take Maverick for a walk on the Roanoke River Greenway. The hubby, Miss Sunshine, Maverick, and I loaded up in the Jeep and headed over there for a stroll. Maverick loved it and I got a chance to capture some of the beauty of the first snow. I shared some of those photos in Wednesday’s post.

 

 

Maverick the Goldendoodle.

By the next day most of the snow had melted. It was pretty while it lasted. I spent most of Sunday curled up on the couch. Even though I could feel the sickness coming, I went to Pilates on Monday. It was a real good workout… and good that I went. Today was my first time back in the gym this week.

Tuesday I had a hair appointment. I love when I come out of the salon with some fresh color and a nice blow dry. I try to avoid washing my hair as long as possible because I can NEVER get it to blow out as nice as my stylist can. I claim it’s because she can hold the hair dryer and brush at a different angle than I can for my own head, but I suspect the real reason is that I’m lazy. I have a lot of hair and it takes a LONG time to fully dry.

That night, the temperature starting dropping and flurries again. It was in the 20’s F and the wind chill made it feel about 10 or so degrees colder. We were concerned because Mr. D had to close at his job that night. Since he is a recent solo driver, we needed to monitor the roads to be sure they weren’t icing. Otherwise, we would have needed to make alternative plans for him to get home. The roads nearby ended up being fine.

However, Roanoke is a valley. On either end of the county are mountains, Bent Mountain and Catawba Mountain. The weather conditions on them are often much different than in the valley. Apparently they were because around 8 p.m. we got the message that school would be closed the next day. Normally we end up being jarred awake by a 5:30 a.m. call that school is cancelled, so I appreciated the early notice.

Since Wednesday was another freezing day and I was still feeling like junk, it was a lazy day. Miss Sunshine had her end of season soccer dinner that night and shortly before it ended I received a text from the hubby.

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Fire.

The neighbors fire had burnt our fence. This is only a small segment of the damage. When he had walked outside there were four fire trucks at their house. This was between properties so there wasn’t damage to homes. Thank Goodness! You can see that it did singe the ground into our yard. I’m thankful it wasn’t much worse. The trees lining our fence are evergreens planted long before we came. Had those caught on fire, I suspect the outcome would have been much different.

Even though the firemen were confident that the fire was fully out, I admit that my sleep that night was restless. Thoughts of “it only takes one ember to set an entire forest on fire” tried to replay in my brain. I was thankful that the side of the property that the fire happened on was the one that my bedroom faces. It helped give me peace that all of the children’s rooms are much farther away. Still when I would awake in the night, I would glance over toward the blinds to be sure I didn’t see an orange blaze. And yes, I have real issues with anxiety. Given the circumstances, I could actually see and feel the benefits of my meditation practice and the gratitude challenge. I was able to be calm and be thankful in those moments.

Interestingly, the next day’s gratitude prompt was “challenges”. I was like “I’ve got this one covered!”

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Instagram.

Every year, there is website where you can find out your best nine instagram photos for the year. I’m a curious type, so I always check it out. These were my top nine. You all are getting the first view. I’ll be sharing it on Instagram this evening. I’m not surprised that it’s all sunsets. I also think that the results are completely skewed. The changes to Instagram’s algorithms made me virtually invisible on the platform. I think these photos had close to 400 likes, a few had over that. That was already beginning to be lower than the year before. However, after the change, my number dropped to around 150. And not to discredit the sunsets because I loved them when I took them… and still do…but I’ve learned a lot since I took them…like how to make sure the horizon is level (in the beginning, that was hit or miss).

Some days I want to give up on Instagram altogether, but then I remember that I love photography so I keep putting my stuff out there and keep getting inspiration from all the other things on there that I see.

I’m slowly getting ready for the holiday, so that is what I’m off to do for the remainder of the day and into the weekend.

I mentioned that Maverick loved the snow. His favorite part was to eat the snow. I didn’t think I had a video of it, but as I was scrolling through my phone today, I found that Miss Sunshine had indeed captured it on my phone. I put together a silly little YouTube video of him for all of you to see.

Once again, YouTube has recommended an awesome video for the week. This is Vasilis Vasiliou. He is playing the Carol of the Bells on a handpan. It was beautiful to listen to him play. Once fact that he shared in his description which was new information to me was that this was not originally a Christmas Song. The composition is based on a Ukranian folk chant, “Shchedryk”.

According to the information I found at ThoughtCo., the music was composed in 1916. The English lyrics were written to accompany the melody in 1936. While the lyrics are copyrighted, the composition is not.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful instrumental version.

As you go into the weekend and next week, I wish you beautiful days filled with many kindnesses and smiling faces.

Rumi quote "Don't you know yet? It is your light that lights the world.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

Musings from my active mind

The real me….

Ok, not the really, real me…. there is a snapchat filter.  No makeup… No sleep… not a great combo for me.  I do reserve the right to maintain some of my dignity.

Thanks so much for the love on yesterday’s post.  In the beginning, I almost deleted it.  But being real is what I try to do. 🙂

This was from my Instagram story last week.  It’s about 16 seconds.  If you follow my stories there, I apologize for the repeat.  I got a good laugh out of the experience and I hope you do as well.

I’m sharing it because tomorrow’s post has been written in my mind for some time.  It is a post that will once again be a very honest, very open post.  So for today, we laugh!

 

Let your light shine!

Amy