The Gratitude Challenge

At the beginning of 2017 in this journey of The Renaissance (The Rebirth) – I decided to undertake the Gratitude Challenge and somehow got distracted along the way. So on this first day of February I decided to get down to it and take the challenge. To be honest – I have been always and still forever grateful for everything in my life and more but I have never kept a journal detailing the various and daily things that needs to be documented.  This idea of the gratitude challenge is that we are to give thanks to God in everything we do (whether written or verbal) and that whatever we do is supposed to be done in thanks to God

Whatever w702fba86463d3f03f68bab680893c8b2e do, whatever we say, is to come from a heart filled with gratitude to the One who gave us everything. But yet I ask myself – how little have I actually done that. Oprah Winfrey has always talked about the importance of keeping a gratitude journal. She attributes much of her success to the power of gratitude – that right there is enough to get anyone to count their blessings. Another lady I admire by the name of Udo Okonjo (a Lawyer, Real Estate Developer and Motivational Speaker) also never hides away from the part of keeping a gratitude journal and openly expresses her gratitude via social media and her newsletters. 

A gratitude journal is a diary of things for which one is grateful. Gratitude journals are used by individuals who wish to focus their attention on the positive things in their lives. Experiencing gratitude is one of the most effective ways of getting in touch with your spirit and your soul. Gratitude is a fullness of heart that moves you from limitation and fear to expansion and love. 

Just for a few moments, consider the things you have in your life that you could be grateful for: all the nurturing relationships, the material comforts, your body, and the mind that allows you to really understand yourself and everything around you. Just breathe and be grateful for the air that is filling your lungs and making your life possible. Simply feel your body and your aliveness, and acknowledge what a miracle it is just to be alive right now. Allow your awareness to appreciate what you are seeing, smelling, and touching just at this moment and you will find yourself in the middle of the stream of life without trying at all. Feel the love, compassion, and understanding that gratitude brings into your heart. Notice how gratitude brings your attention into the present time, which is the moment in which miracles can unfold.

Here are a few more gratitude practices for you to try:

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Sample of my 90-day Gratitude Journal

Keep a gratitude journal: since ancient times, philosophers and sages from every spiritual tradition have taught that cultivating gratitude is a key to experiencing deeper levels of happiness, fulfilment, and well-being. One of the earliest advocates of a daily gratitude practice was Dutch philosopher Rabbi Baruch Spinoza. In the seventeenth century, he suggested that each day for a month, we ask ourselves the following three questions:

  • Who or what inspired me today?
  • What brought me happiness today?
  • What brought me comfort and deep peace today?

This practice can help us find more meaning and joy in our lives and lead us to experience profound inner transformation.

God’s Word tells us “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18), but sometimes that’s hard to do. So on this journey of keeping a gratitude journey – I will be using this 90-day guided journal to help me cultivate a lifestyle of thanksgiving. As you start your journey by writing in your own journal, challenge yourself by not repeating items from the previous days, for this will make you look more deeply at all the “little” things that enhance your life and give you joy: waking in a warm bed; your favourite song; a phone call from a friend; the ability to touch, see, or hear; electricity; the beating of your heart; a hug.

You can write in your journal just before bed, when you wake up in the morning or just before you meditate. The time of day isn’t important; what is important is that you consistently take a few moments to consciously focus your mind on your blessings. Commit to keeping the journal for a month. What we put our attention on expands in our life. By offering gratitude for all the goodness we experience, we’re inviting the universe to give us more and more of what we want.

Write a thank you letter: make a list of at least five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person. While we may often thank people verbally, the written word can often be even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation. A letter can also be re-read and treasured, creating joy and love that will continue to ripple out into the universe.

In this walk of life I have discovered that gratitude also helps with stress. If I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I change my attention on the things that I am grateful for (even having to do with the situation at hand). It’s really a simple and short practice. Say the affirmations and feel the thankfulness deeply in your heart. Sometimes a simple affirmation like, “I’m so thankful for my son and loved ones,” can just about get my eyes to water and fill me with immense joy. 

Gratitude affirmations remind you of all the wonderful things you have in your life and this is usually a great way to start your day.The power of affirmations bring us closer to what we want by feeling that they’re already in our reach.

i-am-grateful-2Here are some gratitude affirmations to make your day just that much better.

  1. I experience gratitude for everything I have in my life.
  2. I always receive exactly what I ask for and appreciate that.
  3. I am grateful for excellent health, prosperity and true love.
  4. My life is filled with an abundance of goodness.
  5. All challenges are an opportunity for growth and I am thankful for the chance to evolve.
  6. I am so grateful for supportive friends and a loving family.
  7. I appreciate everything I have in my life and always keep the door open for more blessings.
  8. The universe supports me and all my desires.
  9. I am the co-creator of my reality.
  10. I see the beauty in nature that surrounds me.
  11. I see animals as sacred and appreciate the gifts they give.
  12. I give thanks for the helpful spirits and ancestors that guide me in this life journey.
  13. I am blessed.
  14. I feel gratitude for the all!

Okay, so I can hear some of you wondering what to be grateful for. We are facing one of the most challenging economic times ever, one of the most challenged health times ever, one of the most challenged environmental times ever—and simultaneously we are facing the most relationship-challenged times ever. Never before have we been so poor at making relationships work. Everything from culture to technology now has an effect on our relationships, but we have not changed our relationship skills to match these changes. Our divorce rate and unhappy marriage rate reflect our inability. I can testify to some of those thoughts which have left me doubtful and also depressed but I then remember that I am alive for a reason and I feel grateful that I have been given a chance to keep standing and living. What does not kill you can only make you stronger by God’s grace!

So how do you start making your list: 

  • Make a list of the 100 smallest things you can think of to be thankful for.image-1
  • List things that you take for granted because the blessing is so commonplace that you have forgotten to notice.
  • Be sure to add the workings of your body to the list—the ability to swallow, breathe, eliminate waste, dance, walk, smile, cry, taste…

It is my belief that if you take any one of the “little” things that you are grateful for, and then move the microscope in a bit on that one thing to see all the miracles or efforts of others that had to take place in order for you to have that one thing or experience, you would have no choice but to ooze gratitude. There really are no “little” things; everything has a huge network of people or events behind it, making it so. We can all practice oozing gratitude, everywhere, all the time.

Once you have the simple steps of gratitude mastered, see if you can extend the exercise into the more difficult realms. What are you grateful for in your family, friends, co-workers and associates? What are you grateful for in yourself? Can you offer thanks and discover the blessing in everything you have experienced—even the death of a loved one, an illness, the loss of a job, the loss of a home, or a broken relationship? Can you reach into your soul and find the lesson, the growth, the strength, or the new perspective that came from every experience and be grateful? This is an invitation to try it out!

Question of the Day: Have a piece of paper at hand (by your bedside, work-desk or in your wallet or even in your phone) and note ‘who in your life needs to know your gratitude’?

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Love Tip of the Week: Catch someone doing something right and let them know you are grateful.

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Yours in love – The Renaissance Lady © 

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