Practicing Gratitude

 

Love keeps me up at night. Love and fear.

I lie in bed, eyes shut tight, trying to sleep while love overtakes all sanity. My stomach spirals, my heart gulps, and I try to change the channel in my mind. But every channel is the same: a long stream of terrible things happening to my husband and son. Soon I’m sick with fear that the two people I love the most in the world will be taken away from me or worse, harmed.

If only I didn’t love so hard, I think.

Of course, that is no way to live. And I don’t really think that. This is just my brain’s way of trying to protect me from the pain of loss. Without a doubt, the more blessings we have in life, the more we stand to lose. And that’s a really vulnerable and scary place to be.

Brene Brown offers a tool to get through the feeling that everything good in your life will be ripped from you. And boy, do we need a tool to cope with this fear! Because whenever we are given anything, our instinct is to cling to it like toddlers. We get this shadowy feeling that something bigger than us will swoop in and snatch what is dear to us.

She says,

We can spend our entire lives in scarcity… just waiting for for the other shoe to drop and wondering when it will all fall apart. Or, we can lean into the uncertainty and be thankful for what we have in that precious moment. When I’m standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I’ve learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if I want to know joy.

We fight the feeling of impending doom with gratitude. This is all good, but how do you do that? 

And what about the really shitty times in our lives? I’ve had my fair share of those – times when I felt lost, hopeless, and really at the end of my rope. How do you even begin to be grateful (truly grateful) during times like these, when you’re scared, or in a dark place, or not feeling blessed at all?

And here we are, on the cusp of Thanksgiving, a holiday named after the practice of gratitude. So, how do you practice gratitude when you’re just not feeling it?

 

Get a copy of the Gratitude Workbook here!

 

Sam Bianchini, a good friend of mine, sat in all of these places (fear, apathy, darkness, lack) and decided to do something extraordinary – to spend a whole year actively practicing gratitude, whether she felt like it or not. The result was, The Year of Gratitude, a diary blog chronicling both the pain and joy of this practice.

I sat down with her recently, picked her heart, and got a whole lotta perspective on gratitude as a practice. Together, we created a little Thanksgiving workbook to help you begin a  gratitude practice, even if gratitude seems like the furthest thing from your reality.

 

Brother David Steindl-Rast Quote

 

This downloadable is packed full with goodness you can’t pass up. In it, Sam gives us the raw truth about what it means to be grateful when it feels like there is nothing to be grateful for.

In my own practice, I’ve learned that we have to be okay with the vulnerability and discomfort of loving with all our hearts, earning success, failing, and loss. Gratitude helps us settle into a place where we can roll with all of these experiences and find a little grace in the process.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Download the Gratitude Workbook Here!

 

To learn more about Sam Bianchini, visit her Facebook page, Where to, Darling? You can read The Year of Gratitude here.

Photo by Keleigh Layton

 

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