… well, according to my WHOOP, maybe it does.
The app that goes along with this sleep tracking device also offers a few journal prompts to you can opt into answering daily, like “did you get adequate hydration?” as well as some more subjective questions like, “did you feel a sense of purpose?”
Anecdotally, I noticed that on the days when I felt less of a “sense of purpose,” or I felt “more irritable,” or “less emotionally stable,” I also did not “practice gratitude” (yes, that’s one of the questions!)
Even the smallest of check-ins to remind myself of what I have to be grateful for changed my perceived state of being dramatically, it seems.
Correlation may not prove causation, but I’m willing to commit to a gratitude practice if there’s even the slightest chance that that one little addition to my day could result in such a drastically different overall feeling and state of mind.
When the world feels heavy, and because my tendency as an empath is to put myself in others’ shoes, I forget this practice to recognize and hold space for all that I have to be grateful for. Anyone else?
I am in the active practice of reminding myself that practicing gratitude isn’t selfish; it provides fuel for me to show up lighter, brighter and more able to show up for others.
And this is such a work in process.
After a snowy February in Salt Lake City, we drove to Moab, Utah at the beginning of March and started to get outside more. The mornings were cold, but on sunny days, temps reached 55 or 60 degrees, and we could hike in shorts. Still early in the season, we were able to easily make it through some hiking routes that are usually intensely crowded with tourists.
I am so grateful I embraced the cold on the days that we did. We wouldn’t have seen some of these unobstructed views without saying yes and just getting out there.
Making the choice to temporarily live on the road meant giving up a lot of consistency, community, and comfort. The highlight reel of what shows up on Instagram isn’t ever the whole picture, and I have had plenty of days when all I could think is, “What am I doing?” When it comes to my work, I’m essentially on my own virtual island when I’m not actively in a Zoom room with a class or a client. A lot can happen to our minds when we let our stories take over.
And don’t get me started on imposter syndrome. The slippery slope of comparison. OY VE. It’s kind of part of the territory, I suppose, in today’s very public social media landscape, but can feel amplified when I don’t have anyone else to connect with during the day to bring me back to reality.
I share this because I hope it reminds you of how multi-layered our life experiences are. Things can be complicated, messy, and sometimes downright dark … and still, I have so much to be grateful for.
I was feeling the effects of my own stories carrying me away towards unproductive comparison a few weeks ago when we were in Moab. Surrounded by gorgeous mountains and still in my own drama.
But one afternoon while we were out on a hike, Stephen’s words hit right at the moment I needed to hear them. He said, “Hey, look at what we’re doing. Out here on a Wednesday. This is what it’s all about.”
The trade-off for community and a very clear career path was for moments like this one. Getting outside on a weekday afternoon and taking a hike. A hike that was recommended to us by a neighbor who we met while we were out on a walk and he was out walking his dog (we ended up talking to our neighbor for a solid 15 minutes while out on this walk – something that I don’t think would ever happen if we were in Chicago. No one would stop you just to chit chat, would they?!)
As we traversed up the steep side of the Moab Rim, step by step we moved further away from town and deeper into the switchbacks where it got quieter and quieter. Finally, once we reached the top of rim, we were completely surrounded by the rocky landscape of Moab. It was like we had been transported entirely away from civilization.
I told myself over and over again to remember my five senses. What could I hear? What could I smell? How did the air taste? What colors could I see? These became my anchors to the moment. Sometimes, at least for me, it’s hard to fully embrace and appreciate what IS until you no longer have it (kind of an oxymoron, isn’t it?) But I did my best each day that we got outside this past week.
This was how, looking back, I practiced gratitude. This was how I created my own sense of calm. I remembered my five senses and I told myself to fully sit with each one. At times, it was for no more than a few seconds. But cumulatively, it had an impact.
I’m curious if you practice gratitude, and in what ways? If not, but you’d like to give a try on a regular basis, what would help you cultivate the practice? Just some food for thought. Feel free to add a comment below or send me a note with what starts to show up for you.