Is it possible to learn gratitude or does it come naturally?
Maybe, it’s both.
If I asked you, what do you think you’re likely to answer?
More and more I hear about gratitude as a practice, something you incorporate into your life, so when I read a book recently that focused some attention on this, I decided it was time to see what it meant to me.
While in Maine this past summer on vacation I came across an intriguing book. It’s written by Chris Gentry and is titled, The Little Book of Prosperity. It’s divided into twelve chapters, which I discovered were organized in a very thoughtful progression. It starts with goals and dreams, then taking action and growth. These chapters are followed by self-confidence, gratitude, and positive self-talk. The book escalates into a chapter on master mind (groups) and concludes with positivity, decision, perseverance and giving back. I dutifully read and did the encouraged exercises in order with one exception. I waited until the end to complete my dream collage.
I found each chapter provided a great deal of inspiration and support for my earth adventure. When I arrived at the section about gratitude I decided to proceed slowly.
At the end of the chapter, Chris recommended that readers commit to a daily practice of gratitude for ninety days. He suggested that each morning a journal be kept where you would record at least five things you were grateful for. The items could be anything, big or small, quick or long lasting, it didn’t matter as long as they were true for you.
I decided to embrace this practice and see what sort of change(s) it made in my life. I confess it was difficult to do every day because sometimes I got distracted or felt too busy. I had to remind myself of my commitment and that I would never know the worth of this if I didn’t give it my best shot.
So, in late September 2021 I began keeping track. I noticed that the ‘quality’ of the items I chose varied substantially and their range was extremely wide. As a sometimes overachiever I added some items in the evening and occasionally noted more than the suggested five items. Since I was doing this for me and not as an assignment to be handed in, I felt fine with setting up my own rules.
Several times through the first ninety days I lost steam and considered abandoning the challenge. That only lasted a day or two and I ended up sticking with the program and being very grateful that I did.
When the ninety days was up, it wasn’t even a consideration as to whether to continue or not. I found the practice to be so valuable that I incorporated it in my daily routine. When I’m too rushed, I give myself permission to record my five (or more) items when I get to it, as long as it’s the same day. It’s now been 146 days and I can foresee this continuing far into the future.
Why? And what could be in it for you, if you decide to embrace this as one of your practices?
My simple answer is…A LOT.
The most striking impact this had on me is the change it brought about in the way my day began. It helped set an extremely positive tone. It raised my conscious awareness of how many wonderful things I experience in my life. And although this was a morning practice, my attitudinal shift stayed with me throughout the day. I found myself feeling thankful for so many things I’d previously taken for granted, which added remarkably to my positive outlook on life. It also broadened what I considered valuable and worthwhile and helped make me more aware of expressing gratitude to others.
And I discovered that the changes in me were reflected in who and what I encountered during the day, which was a huge bonus.
If you decide to give this a try, I’d love to know what your experience is like. And if you know or ever stumble across Chris Gentry, please be sure to tell him how grateful I am for his contribution to me and the world.
PS- I did try to reach out to him but wasn’t successful.