Gratitude is a muscle

So like most of the people I know, I started the year with a new planner. I didn’t plan on getting the Starbucks one, but circumstances (hanging out at the hospital everyday at the end of the year for my dad’s gall bladder surgery) had me complete the stickers. I had a bullet journal with me, though, so the planner wasn’t exactly going to be useful to me.

But since I chose grateful as my 2017 word, and I missed being all artsy~ in my planners, I eventually figured it out. I got the idea from a friend, who used her planner as her gratitude journal, and I thought that was a great idea and decided to do it.

So January came, and I took the time every night to fill the day with something I was thankful for. They were usually simple things – easy commute to work, waking up on time, good breakfast, getting some time to exercise. Or sometimes, something special, too:  my two-year anniversary at work, crappy first drafts, finding dresses and discounts for weddings, going to musicals with friends. And some days, I wrote about the bad things, too: falling into sin again, worry about changes at work, annoyances.

I kept it up for a month or so, with the examen at the end of the day to help me keep still. I thought, “Hey, this is actually fun and easy, I think I could keep it up until the end of the year.”

The last time I touched my planner (other than this week) was February 14.

Of course this would happen. It always happens. I’ve noticed this in the past three years or so that I often lose track of my word and my theme sometime after January. What happens is this: I get distracted, I get a disruption in my schedule (in this case, it was the trip to Iloilo for the SFC conference), and then I find it hard to get back into the groove because life just got busy.

You’d think I’d be ready for these things, you know? Or you’d think I’d be ready to at least fight for what I’ve been trying to do a little. But I don’t.

Now we’re almost halfway to June, and I’m in kind of a funk. I’m not sure why or how or when it started, but I found myself complaining more, or ranting more, or just becoming cranky and impatient toward other people. I feel a little troubled with this, especially when I found myself dreading weekdays, and finding the days just passing me by without finding anything meaningful to make them count.

Have you ever felt the same?

Then I remembered: gratitude, just like prayer, faith, joy, courage, and love, is a muscle. You need to choose to practice it actively if you want to grow into that kind of person.

And I remembered, too, the blank pages of my planner that I didn’t fill with things and people I was grateful for.

And because I needed to do something about this, I thought: let’s exercise that gratitude muscle.

It’s simple: I’ll open my planner and write the things I’m grateful for everyday, again. But instead of just looking into me doing this until the end of the year, I’ll give myself ten days.

Ten days of gratitude.

Ten days of writing it down, of being mindful and intentional about being grateful.

I digress, sort of: when January rolled around, I told myself that I was going to change my physical fitness goals, because the “lose # lbs” wasn’t working for me anymore (did it ever?). I decided to change my “KPI,” and instead of counting the pounds, I decided to count the number of workouts I did in the week. That’s something within my control, and easier to track. My goal was to hit at least 3 workouts within the week.

And you know what, that worked. Granted, I didn’t hit the 3 workout counts every single week, but it changed my priority and made me less frustrated when I go for my monthly measurements. I knew that I wouldn’t see any changes if I didn’t work out a lot, and vice versa. It made me more accountable, and it made going to exercise more enjoyable, somehow.

So just like exercising my actual muscles, I’ll go exercise my gratitude muscle. Just ten days. That shouldn’t be hard, right?

I’ll be back to write about it again. If you want to do this with me, comment below? I’d love to hear your journey, too. :)

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