The gratitude experiment : 1 year - 12 months - 178 thanks
It all began with a pinterest post that caught my attention. A "jar of gratitude" that should be filled with 365 things one could be thankful for, one for each day of the year. But I am -or should I say- I was a lazy person, not really the type for cultivating discipline. So I made adjustments in order for me to accomplish this experiment: I would write down things I could remember I was grateful for at the end of every month, no pressure but curiosity. And there it was ... a start.
January and February went alright, by March I enjoyed looking back on my month and got creative by choosing a special way to highlight the feeling of the month through writing it in a special way or adding little drawings or embellishments on the side. May was the first month I had already half the page filled before the month had come to a close, enjoying to recognize things I wanted to write down even during days when something beautiful happened. Although June, July and August seemed a little rough at the time, I found so much I was thankful for and needed two pages to express everything. During the last three and a half months my pages per month were usually full by mid-month and today, although december has just begun, I felt I wanted to share the transformation in doing this exercise.
A lot of things have changed within this year, surprisingly enough I think I started that practice of gratitude around four years ago during Christmas. My boyfriend at the time and I were thinking of a way to have a tree that was not crammed with stuff but with the emotions we carried within us, the memories that shaped the year passed, the things we felt thankful for. We decorated our tree with candles and some light ornaments and on Christmas Eve instead of buying presents we each printed out pictures of the things we wanted to decorate the tree with, told each other our stories that accompanied these pictures and emotional backgrounds on them and felt joy each time we saw our "Gratitude Tree". So, I guess because the feeling of joy stayed with me, not consciously but subcounsciously, the tradition was kept alive within me even after we separated. Fast forward to the beginning of 2020 and the inspirational post about the "jar of gratitude". Why just being thankful and remembering what to be thankful for at the end of the year, why not try and bring it to everyday [or for lazy people like me at least every-month] life.
The number one lesson I have learned is that I lived unaware of how much positivity there actually was in my life. Science studies show that we negative experiences impact us seven times stronger a positive one. In fact it is harder for us to even remember a sea of positivity when it had one drop of negativity in it, this is called the "Negativity bias". In having this exercise I was reminding myself about the numerous positive things that happened to me that I would have otherwise forgotten. This approach also created an upward tendency within my though process, for instance that by April I was much more aware of things I could be thankful for until the last quarter of the year where I had so much gratitude I literally could have achieved the original idea of being thankful for one thing per day.
Self-love contains much facettes in itself, mostly I associated it with body positivity. After this exercise my perception changed drastically, for the better I would say as self-love for me now is not only about the outside image of us at all. Because of the many positive things that I was now consciously aware of, I somehow erased a veil that before made it hard to feel satisfied. Usually I would go and buy something to make me feel better [as I live a minimal waste lifestyle I would buy 2nd hand or grab a vegan cupcake or a Starbucks, but mostly sweet things like chocolate or cakes]. This behaviour resulted in various different and very difficult vicious circles (body image, self-worth, self-acceptance). I think in October it started to show that I would only buy something when I already felt good and I wanted to celebrate that feeling of abundance. I bought no longer out of lack, not because I wanted to fill something that was not there.With the end of the year approaching and collecting my thoughts about the results of this process of integrating gratitude into my life, I can see clearly that the love for myself grew by putting into perspective how much I could appreciate, especially by living in the now instead of having my thoughts constantly in the past or future.
In addition I won a new perspective on discipline. This only came to me recently at the end of November. In a video on YouTube a woman was stating that through discipline one would earn their self-respect. She asked "What do you promise yourself and why?" as well as that one should hold accountability for that promise. I came to the conclusion that the word "discipline" had been, up until to that video, nothing else but dense, stomach-wrenching loss of freedom. I never associated discipline with anything positive, ultimately because of the programming within my upbringing and family system, but it never occured to me that I might be able to rethink it and turn it into something positive. I suddenly felt a jolt of proud within me because, indeed, I had kept a promise to myself, I had earned respect for myself and this in return had opened a new approach to life itself by turning something with a negative constitution into a positive inspiration.
See for yourselves, what is there to lose than some paper and a few minutes per month? I highly recommend to make this an experience of your own and I would greatly enjoy to read about your personal research!
Love and Light, beloved souls!