Counting My Blessings: How an Attitude of Gratitude Changed My Outlook on Life

About eight years ago, my friend Daniel private messaged me on Facebook after I’d posted a comment about some egregious thing New Jersey Transit had done that morning. He’s a spiritual sort of guy and he said that as much as he loved looking at pics of my kid growing up, my constant kvetching about the world was wearing on him. Instead of just unfollowing me, he challenged me for a month not to post the negative thoughts that I had every day. Not to say that if a real life challenge like a true illness or loss of a friend came up I couldn’t post about it, but basically to stop whining about how much my commute sucked, or how the daily annoyances of my job.

I am sure that I rolled my eyes. I was in a pretty negative post-divorce space at the time. But, because I like Daniel I decided to do it. So when the deli screwed up my order for the 900th time, I didn’t post about it. When I got soaked by a car that sped through a puddle, I didn’t tell the world that my day sucked.

And after the month ended… I just kept doing it. Now when I see Facebook memories from before that time pop up, I feel super stupid that I even wasted those keystrokes. This is not to say that my life became perfect and easy after that, but that instead of putting my negative, whiny energy out into the universe for all of social media to commiserate with, I didn’t feed that energy. I got mad and either fixed the problem and then I moved on.

Or so I thought…

Instead I unwittingly transferred all my complaining offline and to my friends/family. I would call my mom and the first words out of my mouth were complaints. About my day, my commute, my ex husband, a bad date, etc… And she would constantly tell me I was so negative. Then I’d get annoyed at her because I kept feeling like I could BE more positive if the world wasn’t out to get me, or if people didn’t piss me off so much.

Over a year ago when I started my Reiki training and mediating daily, I realized, my mom was right (of course). I was negative, and that was weighing my down. I’d spend valuable time in my life complaining about everything to anyone that would listen, and while I’d smile and look positive on the outside, my inner voice and attitude sucked. All the guides and teachers I’d talk to would advise me to keep a journal of experiences, and write down what I was grateful for.

Queue some more eye rolls. I did it begrudgingly at first, but then I couldn’t stop.

I definitely don’t sit and write about it daily like I’m supposed to, I mean too, but I totally get distracted. But when I complain about something at work, I got home and write in my journal that while some days or events are a struggle I’m glad I have a job. When I complain about some dumb date or being single, I look for the positive: At least I get to spend more time with my cats. Or my friends. Or my plants. It makes me sound a little bit nutty, but it is so true.

I’ve accomplished a lot more in this past year and a half then I think I did in the three years before that. I still call my mom or friends when I’m annoyed, but I’m doing a better job at not dwelling in the annoyance and frustrations. So when the bad stuff happens, I can try and find the positive. And believe me, some days that is NOT easy, some days it is just I’m grateful that my teenager doesn’t hate me too much yet. But the more I sit and write what I’m grateful for, the more I realize just how lucky I am. I may not have much money, but I am afforded a lot of wonderful opportunities. I may not be super lucky in love, but I’m have amazingly supportive friends and a wonderful family. I may not be the fastest runner, or the most fit girl out there, but I am blessed to be able to have a body that can walk for miles or life heavy things.

I was recently in a fender bender and instead of crying or getting angry, I actually said aloud in the car, at least no one was hurt. I dealt with it and moved on. A few years ago I would have cried and complained to anyone that listened about how this inconvenienced my life, how my new car was ruined and how much money it cost and how it ruined my budget, but instead, I actually felt thankful. Thankful that I was OK and had the funds to fix my car, had good insurance and wasn’t injured and was alone in the car. That’s how I know my attitude of gratitude is actually changing my life.

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