The Double Edged Nature of Gratitude (ymmv)
I've always had a problem with gratitude exercises but until last week I couldn't articulate it. Now that I can, I'll save you the build up and cut right to the heart of the matter:
To be clear, I have no issue with gratitude itself, which I think is an essential component of any well-lived life. My problem is, when I list out what I'm grateful for, always in the past I have felt an attendant (but mostly unarticulated, unconscious) anxiety, as though it is all precarious.
"I'm grateful for my health (maybe I'll be ill tomorrow)."
"I'm grateful for the idea I got yesterday (where will my next idea come from)."
"I'm grateful for the publication acceptance (will anyone ever publish me again)."
I'm not saying everyone feels this, but it is certainly my truth. And if it is true for me, I'm willing to bet that it is true for quite a few of us.
That is why I'm endlessly grateful to my colleague Kerry Schafer, for introducing me just last week to a reframing of the gratitude list. In it, you acknowledge what you are grateful for, and then add gratitude for the more that is coming. For instance, "I'm grateful for the client who signed up with me yesterday, and I'm endlessly grateful for the three more clients I know are coming this month." "I'm grateful I've started writing poems again, and immersed in gratitude that I will write another five in the next four weeks."
You see how that works? It more firmly entrenches the feeling of gratitude into a trust based relationship with life.
What I love about this is it reminds me that everything--money, clients, moods, relationships, writing--is flow. There may be flux, ebb, or flood stages, but we are always immersed in endless flow and once we know that we don't have to hoard or be afraid of running out of anything.
I'm grateful that you read this, love, and I'm endlessly grateful that our paths will continue to cross in interesting and maybe unexpected and delightful ways.