Radical Gratitude—The Personal Side

The first time I practiced my friend’s gratitude challenge of identifying 1,000 things I am thankful for in one year it was not too difficult. I mean, it was hard not to repeat anything on my written list of 1,000 things, but I was not in a particularly challenging life season at that time. I had some minor financial challenges to manage and some of my closest personal friends had moved across country, but in general it was easy for me to adopt a mindset of gratitude and experience feelings of gratefulness because “life was good.”

Fast forward a few years and I was faced with a very challenging life circumstance. This was the kind of life season that challenged me mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. This situation held the potential to unravel many positive truths I believed about myself, my closest friends and family members and even life itself. After having a conversation with my same friend who challenged me years before to keep a gratitude journal, I decided I was not going to let this life season overwhelm me any longer. I determined that I was going to be grateful—no matter what. It was hard and soul searching and beautiful all at the same time. I consciously sought out reasons to be grateful each day no matter how I felt or how bad things looked. I practiced finding beauty. Over the span of several months I set my attitude and sometimes re-set it a dozen times a day to be grateful for the good in and around me.

And do you know what? During one of my most heartbreaking seasons I came up with 1,000 things I was grateful for in 6 months—almost twice as fast as I had done before. I believe this is because I had already practiced gratitude and because of this knew how to more easily adopt a mindset of thankfulness. It was not easy—though it did become easier the more I practiced. But it was definitely rewarding. Looking for the good around me gifted me with joy, thankfulness and hope that good people and good experiences continued to exist in the world, even when life was tough.
It is no wonder to me that gratitude requires effort as I continue to realize that all good things in life require some level of work or sacrifice. Perhaps that is part of what makes life rewarding—knowing we have invested in it and a piece of us lies in any good we experience whether we have actually created that good or just taken the time to notice it.

If you are struggling to find the positive in life, experiencing depression or anxiety or facing life stressors, a psychotherapist can help you. An Orlando mental health counselor can provide the support and expertise you need to experience your best life now. Please don’t wait. Call Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with an experienced therapist.


Yolanda Brailey