Have you ever been unable to access the feeling of gratitude?
If so, this story might help. It’s about how Ona found her gratitude, and how you can too (if you haven’t met Ona yet, you can learn more about her story here).
How Ona Got Her Gratitude Back
Once upon a time there was a Plate Spinner named Ona.
There came a day when she was feeling unusually mad, sad, disappointed, and hopeless. Certain people had recently been very unkind, and she felt quite weary of the Plate Spinner Factory. The neighbors had woken her up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday. Then the pipes backed up, flooding the bathroom and making it unusable. A new and exciting friendship turned out to be not so friendly after all. It was that kind of day.
With every fiber of her being, she did not want to return to the Plate Spinner factory on Monday. The thought of it made her want to run far, far away. Or at least hide out in her tree-cottage with the blinds drawn, reading books and eating popcorn all day long.
Luckily, she knew just what she should do to start feeling better. All the self-help books and blogs said that GRATITUDE was the key, for it would magically fix everything! Scientific evidence had proven that practicing gratitude was good for your health, your mood, your kitchen sink, and much more!
So she reached inside herself for gratitude.
But … it just wasn’t there. She couldn’t feel even one iota of gratitude. All she felt was empty space where gratitude should have been. That’s strange she thought. So she tried again. But …nothing.
Uh oh, thought Ona, this can’t be good. In fact, this is a very bad sign indeed.
Ona was worried, because she knew that gratitude was an important thing. Plus, she felt terribly guilty. Get it together, Ona scolded herself, you are able-bodied, have a cozy bed to sleep in at night, and snuggleberry smoothies to your heart’s content….if you’re not grateful, that means you’re just plain SELFISH.
What should one do when they reach for gratitude, but it’s just not there?
Ona went to her bookshelf and began to research possible answers to this conundrum. She learned that the MOST important time to reach for gratitude is precisely when you are feeling your worst.
Gratitude is a tangible thing that can bring you back to joy.
Ona kept reading all sorts of books and articles for more insight. She wanted to get her gratitude back! She compiled a few of her favorite tips, and set out to try them all.
1) Have some self-compassion.
It’s ok to not feel grateful every second of your life. It doesn’t really help to beat yourself up over it. Give yourself PERMISSION to be human and have a bad day now and then.
The important thing is resiliency. How can we get that feeling of gratitude back sooner, rather than later?
Try doing this for a few days in a row. It might need some repetition in order for it to “stick”.
Once you’ve given yourself a little self-love and compassion, you may find it easier to experience gratitude.
2) Gratitude is a learnable practice that can be developed over time.
You can train your brain to instill a more consistent attitude of gratitude.
Fake it ‘till you make it. Science shows that we move toward our most dominant thoughts, and can eventually develop new neural pathways that support positive thinking and behavior. So try to come up with 3 good things about your current situation. Replace negative or hopeless thoughts with these ones. This will begin to “anchor in” gratitude. Repeat.
Try these quick and easy steps, courtesy of Rob Scott:
Step 1 – Take 3 Conscious Breaths
Step 2 – Think of 3 Things to be Grateful For
Step 3 – Take 3 Conscious Breaths
To see a tutorial PLUS learn the advanced version of this practice, check out his video.
3) Find some simple beauty. It can be powerful medicine.
“Even on the hardest of days, the beauty of the world can pull me back” writes Andrea Scher.
Where should you look for this medicine? Spend some time in nature, you can easily find beauty there. And when you find it, savor it.
After a couple of days Ona started to feel better, and she gradually felt her gratitude coming back. Hey, she thought maybe this stuff really DOES work.
Have you ever had a difficult time feeling gratitude?
Do you have a favorite Gratitude “Fix”?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!