Practicing gratitude, not unlike meditation, has gotten a lot of attention these days for having many benefits. I imagine if I was a writer for Cosmo magazine, I’d probably have to claim something like this:
Being grateful has proven to:
- make you more bedable (their word, not mine)
- give you stronger thicker hair
- firm and tone your inner thighs
- help you achieve multiple orgasms and a more dynamic wardrobe
- increase circulation and clear your complexion
- give you the confidence to comport yourself in the boardroom and the bar
I mean, this is all probably going to soon be proven to be true…So, yeah, I get it. One of the initial reasons why I decided to leap into this year-long commitment was due to the glowing reviews of practicing gratitude. But this wasn’t too far from the kind of self-improvement stuff I’ve done over the years. I’ve just never before made it a public parade.
Would I do it again? Yes, but not now. I don’t want ‘gratitude’ to lose meaning. Do I feel different? Yes. No. Maybe. How can I tell?
Here’s what I learned:
/1/ Don’t take it too seriously. I gave myself permission to skip days, but I still had to post 365 times. This is why I didn’t finish on my birthday and why towards the end of this challenge I started to post in the mornings and evenings to make up for lost time.
But the reason I skipped days was because in the past I’ve made the mistake of “pouring pink paint over the problem” that Marianne Williamson so perfectly coined in her book A Return to Love. I didn’t want to do that again. So, if the day was particularly grueling or shitty, I said, not today. No guilt! But I told myself that the next day I had to start again.
I think this is the why I was able to finish a year of gratitude posts. I didn’t make it look easy as much as I decided to be easy on myself.
/2/ I liked the attention. Surprisingly, I started to receive a few “you’ve inspired me to do the same thing” messages. Then I got a few more “by the way, I love your gratitude posts” from friends on Facebook, and then a smattering here or there throughout the year. What can I say? It was positive personal attention when that wasn’t the point of the posts in the first place.
Trust me though. There were plenty of times I wanted to quit. I had committed to a YEAR of these damn things. Whenever I’d complain about having to come up with a daily post, the bf would encourage me. “Oh, you should just stop at 300 already. You’ve done enough.” Reverse psychology for the win!
This practice made me realize that people do gravitate towards optimistic messages. And it has left me with a stronger impression on what is said, how we say what we say, why we share, and what I want to use my voice for.
/3/ It gave me purpose on social media. This was big deal because I was new to Instagram and prior to this hashtag challenge, I was simply posting what I thought were pretty pictures from travels. Suddenly, I had to log in every day, and the habit stuck. I liked that the hashtag gave me parameters and even a tiny community to follow if I wanted to.
Because I often feel like I don’t really know what I’m supposed to post on Twitter, FB and IG anyhow, like I’m doing it wrong. #365grateful made me feel like I knew what I was doing, and it has made me brainstorm what my next #365 project will be.
Here’s what I’m thinking: #365daysofmagic
Of all the things I was contemplating, like #365happiness and #365mindfulness, #365daysofmagic feels like it has both ‘happiness’ and ‘mindfulness’ with a dash of ‘wonder’ thrown in.
Here we go again 🙂
Have you ever committed to a year-long project? What has been your experience?