When life gets busy and overwhelming, it can often be hard to keep a balanced perspective. Developing and sustaining a practice of gratitude can help you keep an even keel when life does hand you lemons (or, occasionally, throws them at you like a game of dodgeball 😉).
Coping with Life’s Lemons
I first realized the power of a daily gratitude practice during an intensely overwhelming period in my life. Ending my day by writing down, either on paper or a social media post, 5 things that I was grateful for that day truly was my saving grace. Particularly on days that I didn’t think I could handle one minute more of the chaos, pain, exhaustion, and uncertainty of the time. I vividly remember one day when I was *really* struggling to find those five different things. I didn’t want to use any I’d previously written down. Suddenly I remembered the shampoo bottle slipping from my hands and hitting my toe in the shower that morning. I’m all about minimizing the use of plastics, but at that moment I chuckled as I realized I was grateful my shampoo wasn’t in a glass bottle.
My gratitude practice fell to the side after I got through that period. Another challenging season arose a couple years later and renewing my gratitude practice kept me afloat, reminding me of many reasons to smile. Over time it was easier to remember that these challenges are just temporary hurdles in life. Alas, I’ve let that gratitude practice slip again. Life isn’t overwhelming now, thank goodness. However, I’ve realized that, when I’m practicing gratitude, life just has a bit more joy and ease. So I’m challenging myself to renew my own practice – because finding balance and joy in my busy life is well worth a few minutes of daily focus.
How Others Find Joy and Balance
Talking to some friends about gratitude recently I learned that we each had embraced this practice for at least one phase in our lives, though we had all used different methods:
- writing daily in a formal gratitude journal
- counting as many blessings as possible during each shower
- beginning the day at the breakfast table with each family member sharing one thing they were grateful for
And finally, the fourth method, which resonated with me deeply. This friend keeps a large glass jar on her counter and writes down those things she’s grateful for on little strips of paper whenever the thoughts pop into her head. During the course of the year, that jar fills up and is both a visual guide to the wealth of good in her life and a resource. Whenever she’s struggling, she’ll spend some time with that jar – pulling out the slips of paper and letting her mind drift to the sweetness in her life rather than the lemons life has handed her that currently seem so sour.
I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite, refreshing and inspiring videos on gratitude, but before I do, please share in the comments below if, and how, you sustain your own practice of gratitude.