a little bit of gratitude

When I was looking up popular hashtags for a Monday, two that popped up were #MondayBlues and #IFHM (I'll let you work the latter out yourself... it's not difficult)

The day after the weekend, the first day back at work... energetically it seems this is the heaviest and most negative day of the week.

When you're already moaning about the thought of being in the office at the very start of the working week, how do you think your day (and the rest of the week) will look?

There's this thing called gratitude. It's free, it's easy, it's takes no time at all. You can do it while you sit on the train, you can do it while you're walking into the office, you can do it at your desk. And, energetically, it raises your vibration to a better and higher level which means you're setting yourself up for a much better day (and week).

Does that not sound much more inviting?

Wouldn't you rather feel happy than sad and down? Wouldn't you prefer to enjoy your working week rather than moan and groan about it?

I get it... work's not always fun. I've been there and totally resonate with that.

I worked in corporate for many years and in my latter years I worked in quite a harsh and bullying environment. Many a time (indeed too many times) I could be found in the toilets in tears. The situation was pulling me down and down and the more I got pulled in and down, the more physically ill I became.

Back then I didn't know what the concept of gratitude was, never mind practise it.

Now when I look back I wish I had known about gratitude so I could have kept my head above water. And that's why I'm sharing it with you today. Whether you're an employee or you work for yourself, one of the easiest, most effective ways to raise your vibration and get through everyday (especially the tough ones.. and we all have them) with a positive attitude is to show a bit of gratitude.

Sonja Lyubomirsky summed up gratitude perfectly when she said: "Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is present-oriented."

When you get sucked into negativity (such as complaining, feeling low or victimised) your energy and vibration starts to spiral downward but when you turn that around and look for the positive and are grateful for even the smallest of things, your energy shifts and starts an upward spiral.

After reading about all the benefits of living gratefully (such as natural happiness, increased health, improved self esteem... and much more) I decided to start a gratitude practise of my own. But I didn't know where/how to begin so I read some blogs, searched the internet, listened to suggestions from friends who had already reaped the benefits of a gratitude practise.

But I felt overwhelmed because the most popular suggestion was to sit every morning (or evening) and write in a gratitude journal. And that just seemed like far too much for me, too much commitment, too much time. And what would I write about? I knew if I sat in front of a spanking new journal book, pen in hand, ready to write what I was grateful for each day, I'd feel under so much pressure to find 'good quality' things and to write pages upon pages of gratefulness that I would simply freeze.

For a novice like me, journalling was not the way to start.

So I wondered how I could make a gratitude journal into something more fun and easy to use. And that's when I came up with my Gratitude Jar (read my blog here).

I decided to write down one thing each day that I was grateful for on a piece of coloured paper and place it in a tall clear spaghetti glass. The idea was that surely even I could come up with one positive thing each day, even in the not-so-good days. And also, I wanted to see the bright colours slowly fill up the jar and give me a visual boost each day. Every 3 months (or so) I planned to empty out my jar and pick a few random coloured notes and read them so I could re-live the gratitude I felt on that specific day.

And it worked great. I had my jar on my desk where I worked, I had the little pieces of coloured paper cut up and ready to go each day. I had a pen handy. It really worked.

Every day I would write down one thing that I was truly grateful for that day. Mostly it came easy (after some practise) but there were days when I did struggle. There were days when nothing seemed to be going right so it seemed almost impossible to find something to be grateful for. But it's in those days that the true gold nuggets surface. Your gratitude in those days may be more difficult to find but when you uncover it... BOOM!

Because, you see, you have this gratitude jar sitting in front of you the whole day, filling up with beautiful colours. And you're having a crap day. But you know that at the end of the day you have to write something. It doesn't have to be deep or profound but you're committed so you have to (and want to) write something. It's in those days when you have to dig deep that you realise the gold that lies in having a gratitude practise.

My gratitude jar was beginning to become more colourful but then life kicked in (as it does) and I found I couldn't work at my desk anymore (it was painful bum-thing... I have a fistula) so I moved to work from somewhere more comfortable (which turned out to be the sofa as it was softer and I could sit at an angle). But this meant that my gratitude jar was no longer sitting in plain sight right and in front of me. So it was easy to forget about... too easy.

For the first few days in my new location I continued to write my gratitude notes... because I had started to create a habit. But then I forgot one day. And then I forgot a second day. And then, before I knew it, I'd forgotten a whole week... you know how it goes...

I tried to get back on the wagon but immediately fell off again. I tried again but after a few days slipped off again. I tried a fifth time and stuck with it and started writing my notes once more.

Here's the thing I want to share.

It would have been so easy to beat myself up for forgetting to write my gratitude notes when it first happened, or each time I tried to reinstate my practise only to fall off the bandwagon again and again... but to do so would only have made matters more challenging - I would have been beating myself up and trying to write something grateful at the same time.

So what I chose to do was ignore the days I didn't write a gratitude note. I just let them float past with love. Because I knew that it was the days when I wrote something grateful that were the most important days and the days I wanted my focus and energy to go.

And as a result, before I knew it, I as back on the bandwagon writing my gratitude notes everyday again.

Will I fall off the bandwagon and miss writing my gratitude note every now and then? Of course I will. But I'll let those days go by because I know they'll be fewer than the days when I write my gratitude note.

So what about a gratitude practise? Does it really make you happier, increase your health and improve your self-esteem.... and more?

I believe it does.

It doesn't mean you'll always find me with a beaming smile on my face or I suddenly feel like a teenager again. What it does mean is that when I'm feeling low or I'm having a bad day, that feeling doesn't last anywhere near as long as it used to nor does it go as deep because as soon as I feel my energy or mood falling, I know immediately what I need to do. I stop what I'm doing, I breathe and I start looking for things to be grateful for. It works every time.

As Amy Collette said: "Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul".

Viv xx