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Practicing Gratitude

During my divorce, I read a lot of books about maintaining your mental health through the divorce process. Many suggested practicing gratitude, recognizing things in your life for which you are grateful.  While it isn’t a cure all for the roller coaster of emotions one goes through while ending a marriage, it brings to light the positive in your life and lets the negative take a back seat. A suggestion I found particularly helpful was to keep a “gratitude journal” where you could write down these items down. I kept mine on my bedside table and each morning I would start my day by acknowledging, on paper, something for which I was grateful or appreciative. It’s no secret that things written down tend to create more action, whether its goals, budgets, food journals, etc. Most days I jotted down simple and obvious things, other days deeper, more insightful and personal thoughts, and some days it was even repeats of previous entries. But I saw a shift—it was harder to get dragged down or stay focused on the junk when I recognized all the wonderful things in my life. Then I began working with a great attorney in Cary, North Carolina. We had a daily morning huddle before we started our work day, to discuss our goals and priorities for the day ahead. His request was we begin each meeting saying three things we were grateful for. It was a perfect way to direct our energy to a positive state and set the tone for the rest of our day. I stopped writing in the gratitude journal because honestly, I was acknowledging a bigger variety and quantity in our huddles than I was in my notebook. While I brought all of the legal skills I learned from that attorney with me when coming to work at Apple Payne Law, I forgot a valuable lesson.  Like losing touch with a good friend who’s moved away, I let practicing daily gratitude slowly drift out of my routine. I wasn’t totally devoid of being appreciative, but I certainly stopped making a conscious effort to recognize all that was good in my life. I’ve had a couple really crappy things happen lately. And I’ve let them override all the good things that have been happening simultaneously. I was beginning to feel off balance and negative. Nobody likes a Negative Nancy! So, this weekend I brushed off the old journal and set a goal to begin each morning practicing gratitude. There’re some challenges ahead (like everyone else) but I’m hoping starting the day with a positive will remind me that I have plenty in my life to be thankful and appreciative for, and they far outnumber the not-so-great stuff.

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