All-inclusive gratitude practice

I am doing an all-inclusive gratitude practice again these days. It’s based on Make Miracles in 40 Days by Melody Beattie, and I am doing it with a friend in Oregon. (We don’t know each other that well but we have a similar orientation, so it’s a good match for this.) I have done this a few times before with other people, and it’s always been meaningful and rewarding.

It’s quite simple. Each day, we write a list and send it to each other. Each item starts with “I am grateful for..” and then something in my life my personality easily is grateful for or not. Everything is included.

Why would I write “I am grateful for…” and then something my personality doesn’t like? Because it opens my mind. It opens my mind and heart to the possibility that there is something there to find genuine gratitude for. It opens my heart and mind to look for genuine gifts in it.

I love the simplicity of it. I love that I can include everything, including what’s most difficult for me in my life. I love that I don’t need to try to figure out what I am supposed to be grateful for or not…! I love that the lists can be short or long depending on what comes up as I write. I love the shifts that happen over time through this daily practice. I love I have the opportunity to do this with others in an unfiltered way.

Image created by me and Midjourney

Gratitude update

I have now done the all-inclusive gratitude lists for 32 days, so here is a brief update.

These lists include whatever comes up for me – situations, my own reactions (thoughts, emotions), and what appears as either desirable or undesirable. And while the format is I am grateful for…. it is really a question – how would it be to be grateful for….? How would it be to find an attitude of gratitude for this too?

The main thing I notice is a shift into an easier and more inclusive self-acceptance. I make a point of including situations, thoughts, emotions and impulses I feel some embarrassment about, and by putting it down on paper and asking myself how it would be to find gratitude for it, there is a gradual shift into self-acceptance. Melody Beattie talks about miracles, and self-acceptance is perhaps the greatest miracle.

This practice is also good for finding where I hesitate and what’s still taboo for me, which helps me find and then inquire into the belief(s) behind it.

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Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have Into What You Want

I am grateful for having found Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have Into What You Want by Melody Beattie.

It outlines a simple practice: Write a daily gratitude list which includes situations, experiences and emotions you have the most difficulty finding gratitude for. And if you want, find a partner to share this with.

The format is Today, I am grateful for…. which is really a question. How would it be to be thankful for….?

This is a variation of the traditional practice found in many traditions of thankfulness for everything that happens, whether we judge it as good or bad. What this variation highlights, and what I find especially helpful, is specificity. When I write the list, I find specific examples of what to be thankful for, including that which I don’t (yet) feel thankful for.

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Gratitude for all

Gratitude and appreciation is a practice, and it is also a natural expression of who we are when less clouded over by beliefs.

It’s rewarding and helpful to find gratitude for what’s obviously good in my life. It helps me shift attention from my complaints to what is pretty good in life.

And it is even more powerful to include all without exception, including and especially that which I at first don’t appreciate. This helps me find the ground below likes and dislikes, and a softening of identification with my own familiar beliefs about what’s good and bad.

The simplest form of gratitude practice is to repeat thank you – to life, God, the Universe.

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