My 30 Day Gratitude Challenge was magical. In the span of a month, I went from a jealous, resentful person to an enlightened yogi – just kidding! 😛 It’s been about 2 weeks since my challenge finished, and I wanted to provide an update. To be honest, the magic has worn off a little, but I still write in my gratitude journals every day and am still 100% thankful I decided to do the challenge. Some observations:
- Gratitude is a lot more powerful when you make a conscious effort to practice it. Blogging about my challenge kept it at the front of my mind in a way that private journaling does not. Whenever I found myself frustrated or just thinking negative thoughts in general, it was easy to remind myself, “Hey – you’re doing a GRATITUDE CHALLENGE. If you think of some ways to reframe this situation, you can blog about it!” Now that I have a new focus (Whole30), it’s not as easy to catch myself when I’m going down a negativity spiral. It takes me longer to catch myself and say, “Hey – remember that gratitude challenge?” That said, I was NEVER able to catch myself before (I could go on hour-long rants without stopping), so I see this as progress. 🙂
- Challenging yourself to come up with NEW things to be grateful for is a lot more powerful than repeating the same things over and over. The guided “99 Things That Bring Me Joy” journal is awesome! Being forced to list things like my “favorite childhood memories”, “most memorable days”, or even “favorite words” has helped me realize I did have a great childhood despite the bullying. The journal helped me remember the surprise 16th birthday party my friends threw me, the fun memories I had baking Christmas cookies with my mom, and the time my dad taught me how to remember the vocabulary word “pandemonium” by teaching me to picture a panda bear moaning “ummm ummm umm” because he’s so confused. Wonder how people in 3rd world countries manage to be so happy with so little? I bet it’s all about perspective.
- Gratitude helps me make better decisions. A highlight of my gratitude challenge was learning to see the bright side of a bad work situation. I thought I had almost made peace with it, but shorty after the challenge ended, I abruptly decided I wasn’t going to tolerate it anymore (yes, there was a final straw that ended with me crying at 8pm on a Friday night at the office). I’m 100% happier now that I’ve decided to take action. While I wonder if it was “optimal” to tolerate the situation for so long, I also know that practicing gratitude made it easier to make an informed decision about how to handle it. My gratitude challenge made me realize everything I’d give up if I left – the sunshine, the beautiful trails, the free rent, the amenities at the corporate HQ, the freedom of having a car, and even the coworkers who are mean but I can learn a lot from. For the first time in my life, I found myself really questioning if the grass would be greener on the other side. While I am looking forward to transferring offices and moving to San Francisco, I know I will be giving up a lot. I will miss San Jose. A lot.
- Gratitude helps me focus on building my own life instead of coveting others’. Yes, life isn’t fair. But instead of focusing on how “lucky others have it”, I’ve started focusing on ways to craft the life I want. Now that I’m no longer hung up wallowing in self-pity, I’ve found it easier to take action and move forward. Want to be happier? Practice gratitude. Want to be healthy? Try the Whole30 challenge. Want to remove clutter? Try minimalism (my upcoming challenge).
What are you thankful for?