Julie Andrews as Maria in ‘The Sound of Music’.
Before you get all cynical about my ‘Pollyanna’ preaching, I urge you to read on… I honestly think that this is the most important discovery I’ve made since starting my self-help (and later ‘talking to professionals’ help) journey back in 2012…
I know. I already sound like some new-age, hippy dippy eejit…BUT…I promise you that cultivating a daily gratitude practice isn’t nearly as wanky as it sounds. I was reticent at first, but then I noticed how much of a difference it was making to my overall happiness, and now I’m all about spreading the gospel of “10 gratefuls”.
If memory serves me correctly, I found the idea for my “10 gratefuls” practice in Mark Williams and Danny Penman’s book “Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World”… I am in the middle of moving house so books are all packed into boxes, so I can’t double check…
Anyway, the idea is that at the end of every day you say (or write down) 10 things that you are grateful for that day. I know 10 seems like a lot. They don’t have to be big things…(most days my “gratefuls” include: I am grateful for my morning cup of tea) but you have to make it to 10. The key is making this into a habit…say them while you are brushing your teeth before bed (and enjoy the projectile toothpaste spluttering)…maybe better when you are brushing your hair/putting on moisturiser/anything that is part of your usual bedtime routine (hey-oh!)…just make sure you find 10 things that you are grateful for that day.
Some days this is easy. The easy days involve sunshine, laughter, raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, tea, cake and other delights and wonders. Win.
Some days this feels impossible, ridiculous, stupid and pointless. You hear the voice of Julie singing “My Favourite Things” and you want to scream, “THEY’RE ALL GONE! I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING GOOD ABOUT TODAY! I’M SO SAD AND ANGRY AND EMOTIONAL AND….JUST SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE!!!”… but somehow, you force yourself (or some amazing friend/partner/relative encourages you) to just go through the motions and find 10 things to be grateful for. So you find them. You say them or write them down…and no matter how small and pathetic they seem…They are true and real. Several years since starting this practice, I’ve started to look at those tough days a bit differently. Yes, it feels like a ‘bad’ day…but it can also be a ‘learning’ day, a ‘growing’ day, a ‘feeling’ day… Just another day that you might just find yourself being grateful for.