A Practice of Gratitude

Lori CraigLori Craig is Adoption STAR’s Executive Assistant, and an important player in all the “behind the scenes” work that goes into making our agency run smoothly. In celebration of Thanksgiving, she shares how a “30-day challenge” sparked her interest in finding gratitude day in, day out.

A couple of years ago, the Adoption STAR staff took on a personal 30-day challenge. We either added something for 30 days or removed/stopped something for 30 days. Rather than go the deprivation route, I was in for a value-added challenge.

I had read time and again that journaling is an effective activity to work through stress, problem-solve, create, record events or store memories. My previous attempts at journaling were sporadic and at times even anxiety provoking — I found for the most part I was more interested in the idea of journaling and searching for a beautiful journal to record my most profound thoughts. Being a bit of perfectionist, once I purchased that beautiful blank journal, I was often faced with writer’s block, as I secretly wanted only my very best thoughts and reflections to grace the pages.

But what’s a challenge if not challenging! So I looked to journal once more. And taking a page from Oprah’s how to “live your best life” playbook, I upped the challenge by adding the gratitude piece. Each day for 30 days, I would free-write in my beautiful (!) journal and generate a list of 3 or 5 or 10 things I was grateful for on that day.

My journaling soon took on a diary format – more of a record of my day rather than some profound insights bubbling up from my many thoughts to be poured out onto my journal pages. The gratitude piece, though, proved to be a key to increasing my peace of mind and my joy of living.

Who knew the life-enriching power behind such a simple phrase that we were taught as little children?

Thank You

And I’ve even taken to talking out loud to myself, often in my car (while hoping the driver next to me thinks I’m talking on my phone!), as I recite my gratitude list at that given moment. Giving thanks for big and small things – for successes and challenges. I find the practice of gratitude both grounding and freeing. It keeps me much more in the moment, appreciating and enjoying what’s right in front of me. Focusing on the positive and the solutions, rather than the negative and the hurdles.

During this month of November when many of us celebrate Thanksgiving, I challenge you to begin a practice of gratitude! It’s an easy practice to implement. You can practice it anywhere, at any time, and it’s free (other than the optional purchase of a beautiful journal)!

11/6/13 – I am grateful for:

  1. National Adoption Month and the celebration of loving adoptive families, special birth parents, and wonderful adoptees.
  2. My son, Brian, on his 29th birthday today!!
  3. My colleagues at Adoption STAR
  4. A beautiful, sunny Fall day in WNY
  5. My family and friends

Thank you for reading!

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