Most of us will have heard of a ‘gratitude diary’ or similar, where you keep a notebook or something like it to write down that for which you are grateful, usually daily or weekly. Beyond a passing acknowledgement of a generally happy existence, consciously detailing specific things one is grateful for can have a profoundly positive impact on mood, mindset and – if you’re a good-hearted person! – what and how much you give to others.
I have tried maintaining a gratitude diary a couple of times before but never made it past a month or so. Not for a lack of actual gratitude, but because it’s been useful in getting me to a point where I feel I am quite a deal more grateful than I previously was, and I don’t need to maintain it anymore. But as is the way with those disposed or brain-chemically biased to a more negatively-framed existence, that passes. And the gratefulness subsides, and I’m back to where I was.
In talking with a number of people, I have listened to their thought that when maintained beyond that point, conscious gratitude is something that can compound, deepen, and even adjust its focus. With that thought now burning brightly, I am adopting an ongoing conscious gratitude.
Each day for the past week I’ve made a note on whatever I had around at the time. For posterity and example, here are the things I have consciously acknowledged my gratitude of and for.
The kindness of strangers
If you’ve been following my writing over the past month or so, you’ll be aware that I openly ‘announced’ and owned my desperately-poor mental health. For reasons I have documented, I felt I needed to share it openly and so I did.
I shared this news on LinkedIn primarily (a deliberate choice and one I don’t regret at all) and I have been so amazed and blown away by the lovely support and kindness of people from all around the world, most of whom I don’t know, wishing me well and offering a range of suggestions, love, and their own stories. We’re talking several thousand messages that have come my way and all of them sincerely appreciated and moving. It’s a significantly more beautiful world than I had thought when thousands of people take time out of their own busy life to write to a stranger and offer their heart.
I am grateful for the kindness of strangers.
The unconditional love of my children
You would hope any parent is grateful for their children, but I mean something more than this: I am grateful for the people my children are, and the way they love me and remind me that no matter what, they will love me always, and share their own happiness with me.
My first Fathers Day as a separated parent was last week, and I am grateful for the loving cards my children made and wrote for me. We spent the weekend together and their messages and love were real, candid and so pure. They rocked me gently and bucked me up and I love them so much.
I am grateful for the unconditional love of my children.
Friendship that ignores the passing of time
It’s said that a real friend is one you can reconnect with after some time and their offer of support and friendship remains as strong as ever, like no time at all had passed. In the past month-ish, several handfuls of wonderful people I am fortunate to call friends, have reached out to me and simply connected in whatever way they wanted and I was comfortable with.
Sometimes as we get and stay so busy trying to keep pace with our lives, we can (and I certainly do) unconsciously forget the genuine people we know. But our real friends can recharge both us and them if we make the time to spend some time.
I am grateful for friends that ignore the passing of time.
The opportunity to reshape and rebuild
When you get to the point of a mental breakdown and are forced to stop, to feel and acknowledge, and to rest and recalibrate, there is a huge silver lining: the opportunity to examine yourself and your life, and make any adjustments you want and need. Building yourself back up again means you get to choose the materials and method by which you are constructed as a person.
Part of my mental health recovery program involves me spending more time on the things that bring me happiness and joy, and moving aside the things that have the opposite effect. Hence having an extended break and making more time to write, to read, to appreciate and to foster big dreams. I’m opening up to a more stable and appealing frame of mind and it’s incredible.
I am grateful for the opportunity to reshape and rebuild.
In a world where we are ‘busier’ than ever and pay a heavy price for wellness, there are so many things to be grateful for, and they can end up hiding from us. But we can see them again and be grateful for the warmth and love that is always there, even if we can’t see it at times.
Shine on, beautiful diamonds xx