February 12, 2020 § 27 Comments
In a culture created to make us want more of what we don’t have, gratitude for what we have is a radical act.
When my dear friend asked me to join a 28 day gratitude challenge that was changing her life, I decided to try it.
I had resistance. “Gratitude, rhymes with platitude” chimed my inner cynic. I associated the word gratitude with sunset beach photos on Instagram and the caption #grateful—to which the inner cynic would think, “Yeah, I’d be grateful, too. If I were there.” I told myself I was doing it for solidarity.
Plus, I trusted my friend, and I had nothing but my mid-winter depression to lose. So I gave it a shot.
The daily practices were part of a book by Rhonda Byrnne, called “The Magic.” I started with a free PDF and ended up loving the author’s guidance and prompts so much I bought the book.
I began my first gratitude list in a groggy morning fog —I am one of those “not a morning person” people. I finished feeling downright upbeat. The shift was remarkable. I felt alive again, present, awake; the film burned from my eyes.
The next day I approached the practice with more interest. Again, the perspective shift was uncanny.
The third day, I actually woke up excited to make my list because of the fix of positive feelings it generated. My friend had described this phenomenon as happening to her, and I remember thinking ‘how sweet, but that would never happen for me.’ Uncanny!
By the fourth or fifth day I found myself transforming. I noticed every little joy around me. The fact that each chapter in the book highlights different areas of focus for one’s gratitude added support and inspiration.
How could I have taken so much for granted? The food in my fridge. The clean water at my disposal. The fact that I live during a time when the entire archive of the world’s collected knowledge exists at our literal fingertips. The roof over my head. The peaceful existence and beauty of trees. The use of my legs. The feeling of my cat’s fur and the sound of her purr. The fact that I have eyes, hands, taste; the gift of sentience, of consciousness, of having a body—the opportunity of a day, the gift of my life.
I felt moved to tears. Humbled and awash with reignited appreciation for the world around me.
Intentional gratitude interrupts the trance state of complacency we fall into when we see the same things every day, rebooting our perception to see the world through fresh eyes.
I think no matter what or how little we have, focusing on what we do have breeds empowerment, uplift, joy—is medicine.
The 28 consecutive days of various gratitude practices presented in “The Magic” banished my months-long depression and forever changed my perspective. I’m not saying depression is as simple as a negative outlook, but state of mind does effect mood, and having a gratitude practice is a powerful tool to help manage depression.
I can’t recommend a daily gratitude practice enough. If you want to jump-start your joy try the 28 day challenge.
If the inner landscape can be likened to a wild and sometimes dark wood, then gratitude is my sacred fire—it warms me, lights my way and keeps back the predators.
I want to hear from you! What are your thoughts and experiences on this subject? Comments will automatically be entered into a raffle held on the last day of February 2020. The winner will receive a gifted copy of the book, “The Magic.”
Thank you for this. I just reminded my friends earlier today about taking a moment to be grateful for the blessings. We get caught up with the business and forget this. I find 15 min meditation is helpful with this. I’ll be downloading the audiobook by Rhonda Byrne. Have a blessed day!
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Hey, thanks for letting me know you enjoyed the read, Andrew! That’s a nice synchronicity & affirmation that you were just mentioning it to your friends today! 😀 I totally agree re meditation–my go-to is ten minutes. It helps so much! Grounding, centering, gets me out of my head and into my body/presence…so good!
Just a quick note re the PDF…I only read it online and have not personally downloaded it…I doubt there would be a malware issue…seems like someone just posted the content in a free share act sort of way. But I can’t guarantee download safety–I just read it online. 🙂
And thanks for the comment! 🙂
Congratulations, Andrew! You are the lucky recipient of our February raffle! Please email your address to email@example.com to receive your WINNER’S COPY of “The Magic!”
Indeed it’s an essential ingredient! If I only had 5 boxes to fill, let one be with gratitude. I’m glad to hear I am not alone, and thank you for sharing your inner cynic~ its these honesties that welcome us. I have kept a small kingdom of ‘3 gratitudes’ in a corner on each daily journal page, for over a year now, usually entered with trivial matters ‘the bird sang a song!’ — but then I think in my secret heart ‘how wonderful!’. The effect on the brain is remarkable: now when I go outside I’m always seeking out those small joys—and if I fill all my boxes with joy and gratitude… that’s a wonderful life! My inner cynic is probably wretching, poor thing ;..D
I so enjoyed your comment Caminantecurioso,
Laughed at the end–your inner cynic wretching, poor thing! HA!!
Also, thank you for sharing about the three gratitudes–I like thinking of it as a “small kingdom.” 🙂 And love the idea of three in a journal. I want to try that myself. I appreciated the “secret heart’s” thought, in addition to the bird’s song–(“how wonderful!”) Birdsong truly is one of life’s splendors. 🙂
I’m glad the inner cynic admission was a helpful entry point.
Thank you for this comment, which brought me great delight! (Something for the small kingdom.)
Oh my goodness!! i am so thankful you shared this Gem with us. I read the opening section of the book and am ready to start tomorrow morning. When I hit send on this message I am going to go find the special journal book to use and be ready.
Lately, I feel I have lost my mojo too. Our politics have become so negative and the news never stops with all the other terrible things. I forgot to be grateful for all that I have and the magic it brings me. From my husband to being retired with comfort to my nature time.
Bless you Tai. You have done it again!!!
Hi batgurrl! Great to hear from you! 😀
I’m so thrilled the post resonated.
Yes, I agree, you’re right—politics & the news alone is enough to bring us all down. I had to consciously just stop engaging, because it was too depressing. But this to me is not apathy or lack of involvement —I just know I can do better work to lift up the world (the calling that gives my life purpose & joy) when I’m not depressed from listening to the latest news.
If it brings me down, it’s not helping me or anyone else, is how I see it. People say “well, you have to stay involved! you have to stay informed!” Trust me. I don’t miss the big stuff because people in my life will always be talking about the big stuff. But I do end up having a lot less constant low grade white noise of anxiety in my life.
What’s so inspiring about gratitude is that it brings you out of the headspace of all the wrong things happening in the world and into all of the right and beautiful things that are right here in our ACTUAL life. Not to say the rest of the world doesn’t matter…but it’s not helping them for us just to feel worse as we tune into their distress….I think we can do a lot more from the place of calmness & power & purpose that arises when we tune into what’s right before us in our lives. We can be more inspired and more motivated…and that’s better for everyone!
Thank you for letting me know that this post performed its function of inspiration. That makes me happy to hear! 🙂 I’m so excited to hear you are doing the 28 days!! I think you will really find it beneficial—I think it would be impossible not to be enriched by it…I’d love to hear about your experience when you’re done!
I hope people who do the 28 days will leave a comment sharing some of their experience here. 🙂
Great post and perfectly timed, gratitude is a superb practice – it is the perfect antidote to our culture of endless desires.
Thanks for your gratifying feedback, Al! 🙂 That makes me happy to hear.
I love that phrasing, “A culture of endless desire.” So well put!
Yes to gratitude as antidote.
Thanks for your comment. 🙂
Gratitude practice is one of the simplest ways to change, and elevate our vibration. It is indeed, true abundance. I have a nightly practice gratitude practice before I go to sleep each night. Also, I have that Nina Simone record on vinyl, that was my favorite song for almost 5 years 🥰 In a society that capitalizes on our discontent, and tries to tell us what we need to be happy, successful, and loved- being satisfied with what no one can take away can be its own form of activism. #leagueofgratitude
I completely agree! It’s such a direct channel to elevating vibration/frequency/feeling state! I would say it’s simplest, most effective & direct one I have found. That’s why I felt I had to write about it. That’s been my experience as well. It’s remarkable!
True abundance! You’re right. And true magic!
I completely agree that in this capitalist society gratitude IS it’s own form of activism. Beautifully said! A radical act and the antidote (as another reader put it).
That’s rad you have that record on vinyl. SO GOOD!
Thanks for your comment, whitehearthenna! Thanks for being part of the conversation. 🙂
Here’s to the league of gratitude–indeed!
Tai, once again, you and I are on the same path. After a difficult year in 2018 (death of my brother, my mother being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moving into an assisted living facility), I fell into a deep, dark well of grief. I let myself go there fully (I needed that, too), but at some point I I started what I called a “Small Joys” practice, which, of course, was a gratitude practice. The small joys were all I could reach at the time…hot coffee, cool rain, clean sheets, a shell found on the beach, a hummingbird in the backyard. But I would write them down, and whenever possible, take a photo, too. My writing group got involved with me, and we created a photo and essay book out of the practice, one of the most fulfilling creative experiences I have had.
I applaud your practice and your beautiful post!
First of all, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I know how devastating and gutting the grief of a loved one, especially a lifelong family member, is. There really is nothing so devastating. I am familiar with such loss.
I’ve experienced a loved one/family member w/Alzheimer’s as well, and that erosion is also gutting…a slower death, losing them one thought at a time. The two together would put anyone in the dark well. And I think you are absolutely right…you had to sit there in the dark well and feel it in order to let it move through you…the only way out is through. Healthy. I’m glad you gave yourself that space to grieve.
But eventually, yes, the soul craves sunlight again…and the nourishment of small joys. I absolutely love the story you shared with me about your small joys practice…that is truly beautiful and inspiring. And I LOVE that your writing group got involved and created a book out of it…how meaningful! I love the idea of taking a picture, and bringing in that visual element.
I don’t think small joys are really small. 🙂 But I think in order to see them again it helps to frame them that way. 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your beautiful story! I hope you continue to hold the “small” joys close to your heart every day. As we know, they are life to the spirit! Nourishment.
And I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the post. Thank you for telling me. That makes me so happy to hear.
Another synchronicity I just realized…I wrote a piece once called The Gratitude Platitude! We are in sync, woman!
HA! Love it! 😀
Tai, your post arrived at just the right time. I’ve completed the Simple Abundance 365 day program several times over the past 20 years – but I’m human, and I’m getting pulled down by this difficult world. I know that when we are grateful for small blessings, the universe takes note of our awareness and begins to send larger blessings our way. “The Magic,” which I intend to start today, will teach the same lessons in a different voice. I am looking forward to the next 28 days. Thank you! Much love to you!
Wonderful to hear, Marie! Did you start the 28 days yet? Would love to hear about your experience. I’m thinking about starting mine over! 🙂
I’m so glad the post was timely! 🙂 Thank you for letting me know.
Yes, Tai, I started the 28 days on March 1st. I go down the list and find something to be thankful for in each of Rhonda’s 10 suggested topics every morning. I can tell you that gratitude has improved my memories of my late parents – I am remembering more good than not – and changed my relationship with money. Looking back I do see that there has always been enough, even when it was very little. Thank you for telling us about “The Magic.” The change in outlook is an incredible blessing and I am grateful to you! — Much love, today and always. – Marie
That’s marvelous, Marie! I’m thrilled to hear it. 🙂 Much love returned.
Hello Tai, it’s wonderful to hear from you! I admit to being a little skeptical of all this gratitude stuff, mainly because so many people are talking about it. Now that you’re talking about it, however, I’m more intrigued, since you’ve never led me wrong before. Perhaps I’ll give it a try…
Nice to hear from you! 🙂 I’m thrilled to know the article opened up something which before appeared opaque. That is a true compliment. 🙂
I felt the same for many years when people talked about gratitude. There just seemed a holier-than-tho sort of self-satisfied spiritual smugness to the idea of preaching gratitude. “Oh, aren’t *you* great!” my inner cynic would snort. I totally resisted it. And in fact, resisted doing these practices…only doing them for my friend….which soon proved laughable, as I saw how much they were actively elevating my feeling state & presence.
I cut down my description of the resistance in my post because I was worried it might come off as snarky towards my friend, who recommended the practice…but I actually wish I’d left more of that in and may add more on that aspect, because I think it’s important to talk about the feelings that come up in protest of gratitude as a practice.
The fact that gratitude practice has become trendy does imbue one with an extra level of mistrust, potentially…that’s certainly where I was coming from. However, upon doing the exercises presented in “the Magic” for a few days I realized it is actually an ancient/timeless spiritual key which has just been seized on and repackaged by contemporary self-help sorts because of its profound power.
I highly recommend using the book as an introduction to these practices. Be forewarned—the inner skeptic will likely have a field day with the author’s writing style/tone/approach to the material. I know mine did. lol. Just try to disregard that element—though the content is still worth reading for the way she sets up the basic principals & context. Just know that going in, and try the practices for a few days regardless. It’s a definitely a “proof is in the pudding” sort of thing. I suggest committing to a week as an experiment, just to see what internal shifts take place in your perception. I’d love to hear about your experience here if you do! 😀
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
Lovely..gratitude is very powerful…❤
Thank you so much! 🙂
Hey, just thought I’d say I really like your stuff ^_^ I’ve just started a blog of my own in the same vein, would love to know if any of it strikes a chord since we seem to be on the same wavelength 😉 -> http://www.therocketsurgery.org
That’s so rad to hear! I really appreciate it. Positive reader feedback makes my day! 🙂 It means a lot. I have your site opened on my browser and am looking forward to taking a look! The first three articles that come up look very intriguing. On on! Tai
Hi, Tai! This was a wonderful article that I enjoyed reading a couple of times already.
Though I’m naturally inclined to feel gratitude and approach daily life with eagerness, a sense of wonder etc. I’m gonna read this book cause it sounds I could learn a few new practices and that always comes in handy; also, one of my favorite people in the universe is going through depression right now so I think I’ll show this book to her, see if ir helps somehow as it did to you, at least to get her mind off depressive thoughts.
As for some things I’m grateful at the top of my head: being alive, first and foremost. What a ride of an opportunity! Unlike anything else.
Not sure if I’ve mentioned this to you before in a conversation but I had an unlikely birth, full of risks, my mom had 3 miscarriages I was the only one able to somehow survive out of her pregnancy attempts, then I was plugged to machines, born 6 months into the pregnancy etc. and I always had very present the notion that I beat the odds and that I’m gonna enjoy the heck out of being alive.
I’m also very grateful for being born at a time with internet so I can have access to every bit of knowleddge ever and stay in touch with humans all over the world, such as posting in this lovely blog.
And I’m actually grateful for being alive in these trying times; not just with what’s going on in 2020 but what’s been going on in the last decade or such and the changes to come within the next few decades. It’s all going to be very trying and full of new knowledge, opportunities for growth and to truly feel who are true selves are.
I’m also grateful for getting a solid understanding of where I’m going in life, what matters most to me, who I wanna be etc. early in life, in my 20’s.
I hope this winter won’t be as depressive for you and that either way, you’ll get finding and sharing incredible transmutation tools to pick yourself up again. Feel free to message me any time, I’m good cheering people up or brnging new ideas etc.
At this point in life, I don’t feel I’ve been in a position yet where I feel my old tools to pick up my pieces again have failed me and if I ever face a situation like that, I hope to show the same courage and creativity as you did, to find new solutions.
Also, “grateful” sounds like “great full” which could mean “very, very full” in some kind of funny English and it could also mean full of greatness; as in, you empty yourself of distractions and thoughtless acts, you see new forms of greatness emerging from your inner core; getting rid of what isn’t conductive of growth or doesn’t get you in high spirits allows you the chance to get to the root of what is to you truly important. And then the magic happens!
“Intentional gratitude interrupts the trance state of complacency we fall into when we see the same things every day, rebooting our perception to see the world through fresh eyes.” I really love this part and this idea; so, gratitude is also putting an effort to the choices we make day by day and how we interact with everything and everyone around us and we just take a moment to appreciate the unlikely existence of something or someone. It reminds us that there’s something inherently thrilling about aliveness.
Looking forward to upcoming articles! Don’t take a year and a half now haha
Thank you for your rich & insightful comment! I enjoyed reading your ruminations and am so thrilled you liked the article. I do highly recommend getting “The Magic” (by Rhonda Byrne) for your friend. It could be fun to do the challenge together, as I did with my friend. I would not have done it on my own at the time, but the buddy system inspired me. And for you as someone who is already on the gratitude track, it still will offer some fresh ideas! 🙂
I agree with you that, hard as times are in many ways, we are still living in an extraordinary time compared to past eras of history. The access of knowledge represented by the internet alone is a staggering gift & opportunity.
And in a way, if times are rough through strife of division, it gives the open hearted a chance to shine their light all the brighter and make all the more difference in the world.
You made me chuckle out loud with your concluding comment. 😉 Agreed! Time flies and I’m always amazed when I realize that sometimes a year goes by between posts, these past few years. For the majority of my time writing this blog (started in 2010! makes me think I need to write a ‘Ten Years of Parallax Post” while we’re still in 2020!), I wrote monthly and sometimes even several a month. But the past few years I’ve fallen out of the rhythm. I have been writing, just focusing on longer works with goals of publication. 🙂
But the reality is, I love writing for the blog and I love conversations like this which develop from the topics explored –I’d really love to get back into a monthly pattern. At least more than once a year LOL. Thanks for the encouragement! Always helps me get back in the groove to get a nice, meaty reader comment. So thank you! ❤
In regards to getting depressed this winter, that is very sweet of you to offer your uplift. I'm not worried, honestly, in part because of the gratitude practice. The writing practice has morphed into simply starting my day with a spoken out loud prayer of what I am grateful for. I always start with "I am grateful for the opportunity of this day…" and try to really feel into it…it just always gets my spirits up as I list all of the things I might otherwise take for granted.
Also, I've got some exciting opportunities for the books I'm working on, so I feel hopeful and purpose-driven.
We just had to evacuate because of wildfires…we thought we might lose our home. Now that I am back and the land is safe and sound, it's like gratitude on steroids—I am so grateful for every little thing, since I really thought I might lose everything. I think it gave me a great booster shot of perspective to get me through the winter. haha.
Love your riff on the wordplay of "great full!" I am "great full" for your enthusiastic & inspiring comment. 😉