At some point in my life, I fell into a major rut.
I was having a hard time in a number of areas and was left feeling very disconnected and kind of depressed. I’d tell myself to snap out of it. I’d remind myself that I had so many things to be thankful for and of how fortunate I was. And yet still, despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t find my way out of this funk.
So one day while looking through some inspirational quotes, I found one from Oprah Winfrey that suddenly struck a nerve.
Oprah said, “The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.”
Well, when Oprah talks, I listen. Suddenly it occurred to me that my random attempts at reminding myself to be thankful were just not cutting it. It was time to set my intentions and let the universe know I was ready to bring in some serious gratitude.
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My Gratitude Challenge: I Had Nothing to Lose, and Only Happiness To Gain
I had heard really great things about gratitude challenges. People reported feeling happier, more positive, less stressed; all the things that I wanted to bring back into my world. With nothing to lose and only happiness to gain, I set out on my own journey of a gratitude challenge excited to see what gifts it would bring.
Try it yourself, say, for 30 days, 21 days, 7 days, or even just one day (even a single day of gratitude makes a difference!). All you need to do? Take a moment, every day, and take note of what you're thankful for
. Really acknowledge it. That's it!
Here's 7 Things I Learned:
1. You'll find that every day has a silver lining.
I had been so caught up in my funk before, I hadn’t been paying much attention to the good parts of each day. At the end of one particularly tough day, I sat down at my desk and buried my head in my hands. I thought “Girl, get yourself together and figure out what you are thankful for today. I know there is something.” As I started to think, it suddenly occurred to me that I had so many things to still choose from. Despite the fact this day had been awful, or the fact that some of the days before had been tough to, I had still been able to find a silver lining in every, single, day. I felt so comforted in that moment; so grateful and so aware of how fortunate I am.
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2. With each thankful thought, you'll become more present to each moment.
Life is busy. We have families, and work, and school, and so many things happening at once. The stress can be overwhelming and many days we find ourselves just moving on through to get by. A gratitude practice forces you to slow everything down. I found myself stopping throughout the day and taking mental notes of things that had brought me joy or happiness. I found myself paying more attention and becoming more aware of all the things I am truly grateful for, and I found myself embracing those moments more than I ever had before.
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3. Being grateful helps you keep your cool — and reduces stress levels.
While I expected many gifts from completing a gratitude challenge, I think stress reduction is one that took me pleasantly by surprise. Calming myself and my life down to appreciate it more had in turn calmed many of my nerves. I began to notice a change in how I handled stressors and was able to keep myself much more cool and collected.
4. You'll be so much happier.
Happiness is an amazing gift. Taking time each day to purposely and intently zero in on the things you have to be most thankful for, allows you to spend more time in that happy energy. You are spending more time in a space of love and sending kindness back into the world.
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5. You'll find many a light to guide your way.
The more I looked for light in my day, the more the light wanted to come in. When I began to clear out the spaces filled with sadness and depression, it left more room for love and happiness to enter. Once that energy was let in, there was a shift in things happening around me. Less sadness, more happy times, new opportunities and new loving moments were coming my way.
6. You'll achieve a stronger connection to the people you love.
Feeling sad and disconnected can put a huge strain on all of our relationships. Interaction with children, spouses, family, and friends can be difficult. Showing gratitude for these people and the role they play in your life, brings a deeper appreciation for them and enhances the relationship between you. It leads to calmer interaction, better communication and more understanding.
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7. New hope and excitement for the journey ahead will surround you.
As if I didn’t already know this, once again, Oprah was definitely right on the money. Showing gratitude and being thankful for what you have in each moment, can change your life in so many ways. In my experience, the gifts from a gratitude practice left me feeling so much happier and much more hopeful for my journey ahead. It left me excited at the possibilities around each corner and so thankful for every step along my way.
So what are you waiting for?