For those stressful days when you cannot think of anything that could possibly make you feel grateful
I have recently applied to become a writer for a Medium publication called A Few Words. The publication is called A Few Words because each post is limited to 500 words or less. Most of my posts are more than a 1000 words long, sometimes more than 2000. Below you’ll find my first attempt – it is currently 568 words – I shall have to make it shorter before I submit it for publication.
Some days, it is more challenging to feel grateful than others. Some stressful days, trying to find something to be thankful for seems like an exercise in futility. At times like this, I do one of two exercises.
5-minutes Mindfulness Gratitude Exercise
You can do this exercise anywhere and at any time. All you have to do is to take 5 minutes out of your busy day, look up from whatever you are doing and notice what you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste in your immediate vicinity that makes you feel grateful:
- My laptop, my connection with the world
- My favourite coffee mug
- The alarm clock that my cousin gave me
- The little antique table that I got for a song
- The great book I am reading at the moment
- The perfume of a bunch of my roses
- My grandfather’s paintings on the wall
- My mother and grandmother’s Bible
- The gorgeous skirt that my friend shortened for me
- The first rays of sunrise falling into the room
- A cat purring in my lap
- The taste of a home-made rusk dipped in coffee
- The quietness of the early morning
The five minutes fly past and soon I start to feel less stressed. I also remember that I have to send a text to my friend who adjusted my skirt to thank her, and that I should let another friend know how much I am enjoying the book she lent me, and that I wanted to bake another batch of rusks and share them with someone I know who loves them as much a I do…
Small Suff Gratitude List
The other exercise I sometimes do, when I run out of obvious things to be grateful for was inspired by the “Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff”- concept. I call it my “Small Stuff Gratitude List.”
Once again, I take five minutes out and I try to focus on the small things that I am grateful for. Not the rusk that I am eating, but the sunflower seeds in the rusk, that took me ages to find. Not the glorious sunrise, but the particular salmon pink colour that I love and that is part of every sunrise. Not the apparent beauty of my horse, but the adorable way the hair curls in whorls on her forehead.
The idea is to notice and list the small stuff, the fine detail, the little things, sounds, events and actions that we miss when we are trying to cope with a stressful situation:
- The first sip of coffee of the day
- An unexpected “thank you”
- The refrain of a song from my childhood
- A friend’s voice on the phone
- A well-crafted sentence in an article I read
- A recently-emptied dustbin
- My cats devouring their breakfast with relish
- Home-made cherry jam
- Looking forward to an upcoming holiday
- The dawn chorus
- A smile in someone I care about‘s eyes
- A sigh of contentment
Taking a few moments to do one of these exercises, at the beginning or the end or at any time during the day not only makes me happier, but it also makes me feel calmer. Both exercises are great stress-dissolvers. Both activities very effectively remind me of what is really important in life.
Not sure how I can shorten it, what I should leave in or cut out. Any ideas? Any insights?
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