If you've ever been told that making gratitude lists, or speaking aloud what you're grateful for is a good way to expand your connection with what you truly want more of, then like me you've probably given this a go. Maybe you even have a practice of doing this.
But what I've typically found is that when I think of gratitude and what I'm grateful for, not only do I not feel that great, but the dreaded 'shoulds' come in. Can you relate?
I should be grateful for the fact I have clothes even though they don't make me feel sexy and wonderful. I should be grateful for the fact I have a job, even though I really don't vibe with it etc etc.
And so even though I'm doing this gratitude exercise to make me feel good and connect with more of what I want - the feeling is often really off for me...and it seemed to be linked to the word gratitude.
When I realised I was doing myself a disservice by even doing this exercise in the first place, often feeling worse than when I started, I decided to tune into how I wanted to feel instead.
I decided to choose words that already make me feel good when I spoke them. Like appreciating, and loving.
Just a slight change of the wording from gratitude to 'appreciating' and 'loving' and I feel a whole lot different. Plus it brings me into the now.
When I used to ask myself what I was grateful for I would often list everything in my life from the start to finish, which would take the focus off the here and now. But what I'm feeling good about now is where the juiciness is!
So now I ask myself:
What am I appreciating and loving in my world right now?
And it all starts to flow...
I am appreciating and loving waking up to the sound of birds outside of my window, and the ocean waves in the distance. I am appreciating and loving the fact that the sun is rising earlier and my body wants to rise with it. That I wake naturally between 4-5am every morning. I am appreciating and loving that I can sit on my outdoor couch of an afternoon and read my book surrounded by a plethora of green trees and plants and soak up natures good vibes. I am appreciating and loving that my work is allowing me to express myself fully and in the most delightful of ways. I am appreciating and loving the beautiful friends I have in my life who shine my true essence back to me with love. I am appreciating and loving my daily rituals and the experience of sitting in front of my altar early in the morning, lighting candles and incense and practising chanting, or EFT or Reiki to start my day. I am appreciating and loving the way my body feels after practising asana and dancing. I am appreciating and loving that it is Spring and there are new flowers blooming around me every day.
And there are no shoulds in this list. There are none of society's expectations about what I should feel grateful for. There are just things that flow from my heart and make me feel amazing! Things that I am truly loving and appreciating in my world right now. And that feels so juicy, so yummy, and boy do I feel good for doing it.
I even skip the writing down part (I know this works for some people), but I'm such a feeling person that I prefer to bathe in the good vibes I get from lying in bed just before I go to sleep at night, or waking up and tuning in first thing about what it is that I am loving and appreciating about my world and letting that energy hold me for a while before I drift off to sleep or get up and start my day.
It is said by tuning into this energy of appreciation and love that you will call more of it into your life. I believe this is true, but I also believe that what we are doing is creating a clearer filter to see more of what is already in your life that you love and appreciate. And then you find yourself there all the more often.
And what a wonderful way to live, through the eyes of appreciation and love.
So if your gratitude lists have a pile of dust and you're wondering why you haven't been getting to them, or you're just not feeling the good vibes when you do - try tuning into how you feel about the word grateful, and perhaps try a different spin.
The reason you are doing this exercise at all is to feel good. So make sure it does!