Change Your Life With This One Practice
Especially if you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or lost
As a young girl, my father told me that the fastest way to know you’ve disconnected from God is when you stop being thankful.
I was born into this life knowing God, we have a special connection. Something that can’t be explained or quantified. I’ll never be able to break it down through words because they simply aren’t enough. Words would need to evolve into mechanics that include sight, sound, and feeling to encompass what it is to know God from such a young age.
So when my father shared this truth with me, I held on tightly and never forgot it.
Throughout my life, I would catch myself in the midst of anger, heartache, or depression and become aware of how long it had been since I was thankful, truly thankful. Like the kind of thankful where you feel your heart open up, expand, and tears appear in your eyes.
But finding that kind of thankfulness on a daily basis can be tough. We get caught up in life — the stresses of work, relationships, and now the added punches of politics/climate change/Covid/etc weigh heavily on all of us.
In 2018, after closing down a retail business that I put my heart and soul into for two years, my ability to find thankfulness was lost. It wasn’t the “failure” that shook my soul but the switch from living out my purpose to returning to work just to pay the bills. Soul sucking, to say the least. Even now, I remember that empty feeling. It felt neverending.
And somewhere along that dark road, I nearly gave up my life in heartache.
I’m a spiritual person. God and I are tight. I journal. I pray. I exercise. I eat pretty good. And I had even quit drinking alcohol during that time to ensure I wasn’t sidestepping the enormous waves of emotion.
But it was gratitude that saved my life. That brought me back.
It was the simple, daily practice of writing things down that I was thankful for and why. It was only three things — no massive lists. And I was writingggg it down. There’s something special that happens when we connect our minds and heart with pen and paper.
I didn’t come out of the dark overnight, it took months. But even in those early days and weeks, I was able to regain some semblance of my previous, joyful self. I was able to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I was able to enjoy the arms of my partner. I was able to find appreciation for the roof over our heads.
And one day, the smoke cleared and I could see life all over again.
We have to be intentional about our gratitude. It doesn’t just come to us. We have to purposefully practice it. We have to set aside time each day to ensure it gets recorded. Because it keeps what is most important in front of us.
Which is the fact there is A L W A Y S something to be thankful for.
This practice has waned back and forth since this period of my life, but when the dark abyss of 2020’s lockdown began to take over, I had to recommit myself to thankfulness every day to pull me out of another dark place.
Pluto has been running amuck in my life over the past two in a half years, upending it in every way possible, and it’s been really tough. Although I was armed with the most respected of practices (exercise, food, sleep, meditation, etc), thankfulness is the only one that consistently keeps me on track. When I find myself in the midst of a bad day or I’m being irritable with my partner, I’ll walk off, sit down, write down a few things I’m thankful for, and find myself shifting immediately.
Something magical happens when we choose thankfulness, especially in the midst of difficult emotions. It shifts the tides. It remakes our minds. And it brings in power to revolutionize whatever was there.
And before you go thinking you’ve got to have grand things to be thankful for — no way. Sometimes it’s really hard to find things to be thankful for when I’m upset and that’s when I go to the basics like the fact I have running water in my house. Much of the world doesn’t! Or that I can go have privacy and safety in my bathroom. Much of the world can’t! Or that I can make fresh coffee every morning. Much of the world never will!
They don’t have to be grand — they just need to be heartfelt.
We have so much to be thankful for, especially here in the West. And what better way to change our attitude or gain perspective than by finding something to be grateful for?
We must not let what we’ve been given be forgotten. We must fight to keep it front and center. Strive to keep a fresh perspective. Endeavor to remain appreciative and heart-centered.
But more than anything, we must give thanks for the simple gift of waking up.
Because life is truly our greatest blessing.