Staying in Gratitude, Staying out of Anxiety

gratitudeGratitude is such a powerful place to be.

And I’ve e so far away from that place. It’s not that I’m ungrateful. It’s that I forget. Something happens and I start to obsess about fixing it or changing it or obsess about obsessing over it. Slowly gratitude slips away. Then I’m in that place. That place where there’s never enough. I’m not smart enough to figure this out, why is life so hard and so consistently full of obstacles. What am I going to do?  How am I going to fix this?

My shoulders get tight. My neck hurts. My breathing gets more and more shallow and then I can’t sleep and I’m nauseated on a daily basis. The anxiety has slowly crept in while I wasn’t watching and now I’m deep in it. What am I going to do?

Last week was like that. Many, many things crept up. Slowly, like the cat trying to climb into bed with me. A tiny step, then a pause to see if I’m paying attention. Then another tiny step and then another long pause. Meanwhile, I’m drifting farther and farther away from being awake, in both the spiritual sense and the asleep sense and the cat’s on the bed and the anxiety has taken over my life.

Now, as you probably remember anxiety and I are old friends. (Me and my companion anxiety). She doesn’t like to just visit. She grabs the comforter and settles in.

So, last week it all came to a head. Everything that was a tiny bit wrong seemed enormous. I couldn’t seem to manage my moods, which I’m pretty good when it comes to teaching and helping other folks. And to be fair, I’m good at it a lot, but not last week. Last week was anger and tears and feelings of hopelessness. So what’s the answer?

Being in mindful gratitude-taking time to meditate and do one thing mindfully eases the negative thinking, distracts from the problems and increases concentration. (I created a different relationship to the voice in my head)

Writing that gratitude list that everyone hates to do really helps. Start tomorrow morning. In your journal or in a notebook make a list of ten things you’re grateful for. Begin by listing the numbers 1-10 on ten separate lines and then don’t think, don’t take your pen off the page, just write ten things. They don’t have to be big things. Once I took a journaling workshop and we had to write 100 things.  Somewhere around 43 I started listing things like my toothbrush. Really, I AM grateful for my toothbrush, but you get the idea. They can be silly, they can be meaningful. My kids were early on in that list.

Start the list tomorrow and write another one the next day. Try it for seven days and see what happens. I’m not promising magic, but I do believe it helps.

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude and take back your comforter. Anxiety will find somewhere else to bunk.


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