Sometimes people ask me after book signings or classes how they can remain positive and grateful in light of all the challenges in life. “Sure, it’s easy for you, Deborah, but it’s just not that easy for me!”
The truth is, it hasn’t always been easy for me. It takes time. It takes being willing to think about things differently. And it takes a conscious effort to be grateful until you reach a point where you automatically dwell in that gratitude corner as you go through your day.
Here is what I did to get to where I am. And let me preface this by saying if ever God created a hand-wringing, pearl-clutching worrywart, I am the poster child for that model.
I started out by writing a list of all the things I was grateful for every day. This re-trained me about what I put my focus on, and also pulled more wonderful things into my world for which to be grateful! And it’s most certainly where I got the idea for the first Grace of Gratitude Journal I created. I kept picking up my notebook to write my entry, and thinking, ‘This is such an important thing to do, it should be done in a beautiful journal and not the kind of notebook millions of children use to write their homework assignments!’ Not that there’s anything wrong with using a notebook, but I’m a graphic artist, I love art, and I knew having a beautiful journal would help me raise my vibrational level every time I looked at it.
Next, I realized I needed a shift in my thinking, instead of going negative when it seemed life was going to disappoint me. If there was a project I wanted to work on, instead of worrying about whether I was going to get it, I felt grateful for the opportunity to bid on it, to speak to the person needing it, and then I’d release all attachment to the outcome, thinking ‘this or better’.
I stopped thinking of challenges as things happening to me and started thinking about them as things that were actually working in my favor. Those challenges benefit me somehow. They teach me something, strengthen my resolve, prove how strong my faith had become; whatever it was I knew I would be okay and there would be something wonderful I could come away with as a result of it.
And so, when faced with such challenges, I couldn’t wait to find out how I would benefit and I immediately became grateful for those opportunities. Look at the faith and trust involved in feeling this way!
You may be in a place where it all sounds overwhelming, so take baby steps:
Start out journaling once a day and maintain that great habit. Do nothing BUT that for thirty to sixty days.
After you’ve gotten to the thirty or sixty-day mark, start to look for the positive that comes as a result of any challenge you’re facing. How can it benefit you? This habit of reshaping your thinking isn’t to replace journaling but is done in addition to it – so keep journaling!
Let go of your worry as best as you can. Give it to God. Create a visual for this that you can use throughout the day. One way is to visualize putting your worry into a box and burying it, knowing it will decompose and stop existing. Another way is to visualize that every time you walk through a doorway, there is a shower of water coming out of the door frame, bathing you of all worry, washing it all away. Think of that each time you walk through a doorway and thank God / Spirit for cleansing you of all your worry and replacing it with faith in your heart.
When you consider the number of years it took for you to get to the place of worrying about things and not being grateful, you’ll be more patient in moving yourself away from worry and moving to a place of gratitude. Have faith that it will happen!
If this hand-wringing, pearl-clutching worrywart can create a life of gratitude and faith, and very minimal worry, YOU CAN, TOO!!!!!
Deborah Perdue, RScP
Author of “Daily Gratitude Reflections” and “Grace of Gratitude Journal”
Center for Spiritual Living
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