I couldn’t find the quote online, but I thought I read somewhere, at some point, the notion that “gratitude is just disguised envy.”
If indeed that statement was ever made (and I didn’t just manufacture it in my brain), nothing could be further from the truth.
The Gratitude List
Michelle’s recent post on gratitude led to be a bit of online research, some mulling over of things and an urge to talk about what’s come to be a valuable tool for me-The Gratitude List (capitalization intended).
I saw one online post that referred to enumerating things to be grateful for as a “gratitude adjustment” and that’s a term that really resonates with me. Each time I do it, I feel at least a tiny bit better about life.
Full disclosure here: I struggle with depression.
It’s chronic and I think it’s chemical in nature. I’ve had periods of feeling low since before I could put a name to what I am feeling. As I have progressed through adulthood, I’ve developed a toolbox of techniques that have helped me beat back the demons, including meditation, cognitive behavior exercises, working out, maintaining and growing my support system, being spiritual and yes, taking meds.
One of the weapons in the arsenal that has come along relatively recently is the gratitude list. The concept turned up in some self-help literature I was reading, and it was reinforced in a discussion with a buddy of mine over pizza. He has struggled with his own issues, by the way.
Making The List
So here’s what I do, and here’s my suggestion for the one list everyone needs to make. (Full disclosure: I don’t make my list nearly as much I should, or want to. Some days are insanely busy).
(1) Whenever time allows, I hand-write my list. It seems to engrave the message more firmly onto my brain
(2) I begin each point with: “I am so happy and grateful for”…as opposed to stating it once and then listing a bunch of bullet points. Mentioning happiness and gratitude anew each time I list a point links the concept of happiness/gratitude and what I am specifying more firmly.
(3) I really try hard for specifics, so that I’m not stating the same generalities over and over. Instead of “I am so happy and grateful for a loving and supportive partner,” how about “I am happy and grateful for a partner so loving that she made me stuffed green peppers (one of my favorites) for dinner after hearing that I had a lousy day at work.”
(4). Have a little fun with it, be silly. “I am so happy and grateful that for once, the guy in the next cubicle who smacks his lips while eating went to the break room instead of eating lunch at his desk. Peace and quiet and no feeling like I am next door to a pig feeding at a trough! (Hint: don’t show this to your co-worker).
And it works. Last week I had one of those “worst days ever.” Hellish commute, forgot my lunch, mini-confrontation with a supervisor (no punches were thrown) and didn’t have time to make it to the gym. Time to make a gratitude list! And it really helped, along with a mini-meditation as I sat in my car before pulling out of the parking garage.
Join in the Fray: How do you express your gratitude? I’d love to hear some feedback.
Mark Woolsey is a veteran broadcaster, freelance writer and aspiring blogger. This is his second piece for The Swirl World – stay tuned for more!
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