Learning the power of gratitude

My friends will tell you I’m usually a down-to-earth, pragmatic sort. But lately I’ve been tending to my spirit and learning the power of gratitude.

I have a small and beautifully simple app on my phone called Presently.

It allows me to make daily entries, aimed at recording what I am grateful for. That’s it – no ads, no uploading pictures, no sharing buttons, no complications. Just a space to write some thoughts.

I’ve had it since March 2022, and in that time I’ve made just over 125 entries (I know because the app congratulated me on this.)

That will tell you that I haven’t been that regular in my gratitude-ness.

But recently I’ve been making a daily point of thinking about things I’m grateful for.

That arises out of a challenge posed to me during burnout coaching: that to make progress in my business I need to focus on an attitude. That new attitude needs to encompass:

  • Cultivating a gratitude practice
  • Being present (to be in the past is to invite depression, to be in the future is to invite anxiety and panic)
  • Being open to making connections, and in fact, to actively cultivate connecting with people (not with the idea of getting something from them, but simply to be open, to build the relationship)

Yes, but, said rational me

I resisted fiercely at first: I couldn’t see how working on feelings would translate into business plans and success. At the time I was feeling down. When I thought of something to be grateful for, however small, it felt as though anything positive I might be feeling or thinking was surrounded by huge waves, making those small positive things meaningless.

But I went away, thought about it and gave in. I didn’t have anything to lose by trying it. Gratitude, mindfulness, connection would be my mantra.

I returned to the Presently app, and tried every day to note three things I was grateful for – some examples:

  • Sitting on the couch with the dog
  • Sunshine in the doorway
  • Seeds in the ground in the garden

You get the picture: small concrete things, to hold against the dark.

Turning a corner

One night, awakening at 3am, I had an image of myself as a small, creaky wooden boat, floating on a wide sea, bathed in golden light. I thought: “The threats are still there, lying beneath the surface of the sea. My position is fragile. But – I am above the water, and the sun is shining.”

Then I went to sleep again, and woke up, determined to keep my wooden boat in good shape.

There are still moments when I feel overwhelmed (as do we all). I sit down and think of three things, no matter how small, that I feel grateful for – the purr of a cat, having a quiet room to work in, hot tea.

And I pick myself up and get on with things.

Main picture: Florian van Schreven, Unsplash

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