My friend Tania has started the practice of keeping a daily "Gratitude Journal" where she chronicles each of the big or small things that she is thankful for in that day. Many, many moons ago I kept such a journal as well. I think it was an Oprah thing.
For myself, the journal was more frustrating than empowering. I found myself feeling forced and often frustrated trying to come up with concrete minutia that made that particular day one in which I was differently grateful than the one before it.
The idea, of course, is to look at your experiences in a new light, a more positive one, where each and every moment holds some magic. That could be in a regular routine event, or from a new and unique opportunity.
In some ways, I must be in a different place than I was then because I can see how easy each day it would be to be thankful for all that I have whether health, laughter, friendship, love, experiences or necessities. In another way, I think the way I've survived much of the trauma I've lived is through seeing past the negative to the positive around the corner, or at least not letting the negative steal my spirit or force me to become jaded. I guess I've always kept a sort of gratitude in my heart, mind and spirit without focusing on it as such.
Life can be full of setbacks and heartaches, losses and betrayals-and it's easy to get lost in the "why me?" or to throw yourself a pity party. One thing that has held me up through much trial is the saying, "There but by the Grace of God go I." Every time I start to feel down or sad or pitying, I try to re-frame my thoughts and remember that as bad as I have it in that moment, there are many other individuals living trials much, much more hellish and deplorable every single day. It makes me wipe my tears, pull up my big girl panties and hell, just get on with it. No, it doesn't erase that with which I'm struggling. It does, however, make me focus on the things for which I'm grateful.
If you want to write it down as a frame of reference, or you want to express it in your daily prayers or meditations, or you just want to use it for strength to make it through yet another of life's surprise obstacles-I think it's a healthy practice to remind ourselves each day to be thankful, for so much.