The idea of acknowledging and extending your gratitude is everywhere. Suddenly it is a buzz-worthy trend. I see articles about starting a gratitude journal or jar everywhere. I’ve tried to keep up a gratitude journal so many times but I’ve only made it happen two days in a row and a gratitude jar is neat but once I had a few papers in there, I never added to them, and I never looked at them. I know it is a good idea to focus your mind on the positive rather than the negative, but I hardly find time to work out, much less to sit down and write out what I am grateful for. I know that isn’t good.
In fact, I realized how easy it is to let the negative permeate your life when I saw my 8-year-old daughter doing it. There has been an untoward amount of stress in her life lately. Beyond the tragedy in September, she has had a change in her dad’s job, our cat has been sick (a UTI), and her teacher changed mid-year. When Iz gets stressed, she cannot settle and she tends to focus on what is wrong or what could go wrong (she is really good at hypothetical tragedies).
So, one night I tucked her in and she asked me, “What if tomorrow goes all wrong? Why do I feel like Hunter has more toys than me? What if everyone is away for my birthday next year? What if the weather is bad tomorrow and I can’t play outside?” And on and on. Everything was terrible and it was about to get worse, if you believed her.
So I said-
“What are you grateful for?”
And Izzy replied, “What do you mean?”
I am grateful you and Hunter are healthy and safe.
I am grateful for my warm slippers when my feet get cold.
I am grateful for my yarn and love of crochet.
Once I had answered, I saw the light of understanding light up her eyes. She got it. Then she answered,
“I am grateful for my fish, Epic, for my brother, and for my reading corner with all the pillows. I am grateful someone wrote Harry Potter and that my pajamas are comfy.”
And then she giggled. As I left, she called out, “I thought of more!” so I said to save them in her head for tomorrow. We have done it nearly every night since and I swear she sleeps better.
I have even started to try it. I can’t seem to shut my brain off at night. There is so much to do, especially since Christmas is approaching, so I have taken to writing a to-do list in my Filofax before I go up to bed. Then, as I lay in bed and I’m falling asleep, I stop my brain from circling around that negativity drain and I quickly think of three things I am grateful for. I find I have more positive and less stressful dreams and I wake up more well-rested.
Have you tried a gratitude practice? Did you try a jar, journal or verbally declared it?
How do you wind down before bed?
What’s your bedtime routine with your kids?