I remember being at a time in my life where I told one of my mentors “if one more person asks me to put together a gratitude list I’m gonna lose my mind. I don’t freaking have anything to be grateful for.”
I’m sure she could hear my pain talking, and to her credit, she didn’t (at that moment) encourage me to make a gratitude list.
The suggestions to “make a list of what you’re grateful for” met me at a time when I was completely cynical, depressed, and thoroughly disappointed in my life. In every area. But the advice was solid.
What I didn’t realize at the time is that, if we are constantly complaining, then what we’re complaining about is actually what we’re going to bring about in our life … and WE ARE MAKING IT WORSE WITH EVERY WORD!
Now (many years later, and after a lot of intentional work on myself), I can see what a ruse this was by the devil, to steal my joy and rob me of my vision. I have always had plenty in my life to be grateful for, but I didn’t always see it – and I lived in misery for many years because of this exact thing.
Had I realized that earlier on, I believe it would have saved me many years of heartache and disappointment, and I’m hoping to save you the trouble today and give you a little workaround if you’re in a spot where making a gratitude list feels like it’ll make you lose your mind!
The workaround simply is, instead of saying “I’m grateful for _______” and filling in the blank, you can simply shift the list to “I guess I’d rather have this than not” and start listing things out from there.
Because even if you don’t “feel” grateful for something (yet!) in your life, you can certainly recognize what you’d rather have than not, i.e.
- “I’d rather have food in my fridge than not.”
- “I’d rather have fresh drinking water than not.”
- “I’d rather have a jacket than not.”
…and on it goes…
It doesn’t have to be some extravagant list of extraordinary things that even kings would be jealous of. No. Not at all. The point of this is not to come up with the coolest list. The point of this is to get you OUT of complaining mode (I know it’s an easy default, but it’s detrimental!) and into a mode of recognizing what IS working, even if it feels insignificant at the time.
Give it a shot. “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.” as they say.
And, no – this isn’t a magic formula that will make life easy breezy all of the sudden. BUT, it will start to shift something internally. You see, even though it “feels” gratifying for a moment to garner sympathy for all you’re complaining about, I know from first hand experience that there’s a deeper well of frustration growing because what you *truly* want is to actually not have things to complain about.
You want a different life. A better life. A life where you don’t have to complain and try to garner sympathy. Perhaps even a life people can be inspired by.
I get it. I was there, too. And I can assure you that it’s possible to shift into that.
It starts with this. “Baby steps.” as they say. You don’t have to “feel” grateful to recognize what you’d rather have than not.
I challenge you to make a list of at least 5 things….and even though I gave you 3 above that can be on your list, those ones don’t count towards your 5 ?