November 27, 2020
I had to stop writing in my gratitude journal for a while.
I know. It sounds strange coming from the girl who preaches gratitude like it’s the bible. But here’s the thing I had to ask myself if I’m writing things down in my journal as a routine without truly being present and focusing on what I’m writing, is it really serving me? Should gratitude be done by rote and feel like a chore? Easy answer—no.
I didn’t stop being grateful, but I stopped making gratitude a have-to. Yes, gratitude can pull you out of dark times or can be used to celebrate incredible times, but it is something special and when I’m expressing gratitude I want to show up with my whole self. When it started to feel like a chore or a must it wasn’t working for me anymore.
My gratitude felt like it had lost its magical powers.
So, I stopped making gratitude something I absolutely had to do every day. When something popped in my head that I felt grateful for I made a note of it, appreciated it, really felt present, and then moved on with my day (total of about fifteen seconds).
During his time of year being grateful and feeling thankful are things that we’re “supposed to” be kicking into high gear (and who likes anything they’re supposed to do). So, I decided to really figure out what it means to be grateful versus being thankful. What I found on my friend the google machine is that the difference is that being thankful is a feeling whereas being grateful is an action. And when I act on something, it’s really important to me that I be present in that act.
When we’re busy gratitude can feel like another action to perform in addition to everything else we have to get done. And in the past few weeks, I’ve been busy—launching my podcast, submitting my manuscript to publishers, making sure Moe doesn’t tear up the entire house—and it was hard to sit and focus and be in just one place at one time. It was hard to get back to the root, to the act of being grateful, and expressing gratitude in a way that felt genuine to me.
So, I took gratitude off of my to-do list (I mean, really, are you shocked it was on my to-do list?) and gave myself the space to feel grateful without it being forced.
Turns out, when you take a step back from anything you’ve been forcing it’s much easier to allow it to come back into your life naturally and feel genuine. I can apply this same principle to getting inspired for my writing. Ever heard, you can’t force inspiration?
Some things aren’t meant to be chores. Gratitude is certainly one of those things, so if you’re forcing gratitude or forcing meditation or squeezing out inspiration chances are it’s not feeling good anymore. So instead of getting upset or angry or frustrated with yourself, take a step back.
You are not a bad person if you stop meditating or if you stop practicing gratitude. When it feels right it will step back into your life on its own and maybe in a different form. Maybe I don’t need lists on lists on lists on lists of what I’m grateful for…because sometimes when I make these lists I stress myself out thinking if I don’t absolutely put every single thing on there then the Universe is going to think I’m not grateful. ( By the way, I’ve learned that’s also not the way the Universe seems to work.)
Maybe gratitude is reintroducing itself into my life when I take a walk and take a breath and something or someone I’m grateful for crosses my mind. Maybe it’s just a momentary flash while I’m taking a shower.
No one gets to tell you how to practice gratitude or feel thankful, or when you absolutely must do so. We don’t stop being grateful or thankful when we stop making lists, it just takes on a new form and that’s good too.
I am working to stop putting pressure on myself to make additional time for self-care when it stresses me out. Self-care is sometimes handling your to-dos. Sometimes it’s even working late. Or sometimes self-care is taking a bath, breathing, or meditating—but the point is that you get to define your means of taking care of yourself, feeling grateful, and being thankful without guilt. It’s all up to you.
The world is your oyster, you go out and find your favorite way to practice self-care and gratitude, and when you find new ways I want to hear all about them if you’re willing to share.
Happy day, lovelies, I am sending big hugs and wonderful wishes for an amazing weekend. XOXOX, CAMDW
PS There is also no expressing “too much” gratitude. If it flows, let it. Show it. If you’re feeling it by all means don’t stop yourself.