Gratitude Journal

I had never heard of this until I went to drug rehabilitation. But it is not a practice limited to addicts. It can be a tool for growth and expanding your awareness no matter how you arrive at the practice.

If you have ever quit using mind altering substances after any period of time, you know that it can be a desperate, lonely and overwhelming time. It was suggested as a method to try (as was keeping open-minded) and I was sick of feeling awful inside and would have tried anything to help in the new, raw and vulnerable position I found myself.

I started small, with 3 things every day. The idea is- even if it seemed like everything was coming down around you, and let's face it, when you are in rehab, it already has, you have to keep up with it every day. I kept to it most of the 90 days. It made me feel good to accomplish something and hold myself to something more than just not doing mind altering chemicals. I had expanded it to ten by the time that I left and came home. I might be giving myself too much credit to say that I kept it up for 2 weeks after leaving, but I didn't make it as much of a priority as I had before.

This is not a relapse story. But, I did part ways with the practice. I am not going to say I didn't need it, because I did, but I let it fall away from my mind. My mind has not gone to the negative, hopeless and desperate state I once found myself, but negativity DID begin to creep back in, slowly and quietly, as it often does.

Fast forward a few years and I have started keeping one again. This time, however, I began to use it as a tool for growth. I write down between five and ten things for which I am grateful every day. Yes, I miss days. I am not perfect. But the INTENTION and effort expended at BEING grateful and living grateful has been greatly rewarding in my life.

What does being grateful mean? Living in gratitude? Why is it helpful and meaningful? To me, being grateful means staying in a place where all of stuff you think you want and cannot live without falls away and you stay in a place of loving what you have. Do I want a different job? Is my apartment too small? Hell yes, but I choose not to live in the act of wanting what I do not have. I focus, instead, on what IS. What does exist in my life for which I am grateful? Flip the script.

And, for those of you who also have an inner voice that punishes you for making mistakes and missing days (I do), it is a great exercise in controlling your mind. When the guilt-inducing voice shows up (regarding the gratitude journal)- I replace it with a positive thought or ACTION. There is a saying in recovery- "move a muscle, change a thought" and it works like a charm. I think some of the value in keeping the journal is missing days and controlling the negativity that arises in my mind.

The funny thing is, that on the days where I missed doing it, I REALLY MISSED DOING IT. I need it MORE on the days that I feel less than enthused about practicing my new habits. I have recently begun to challenge myself. I made prayer beads with 117 beads on it and some days I pray for 117 things for which I am grateful. That is a challenge, and sounds time consuming, but really, it takes about five minutes and will blow your whole day open into possibility and creation vs. rumination and limitations.

Try it if you would like. It is working for me!

Stay light, my friends!

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