The Gratitude Challenge: 10 days of being grateful.

“I will never talk about joy for the rest of my career without talking about gratitude.”

I remember hearing Dr. Brene Brown utter these powerful words on Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations Podcast. I was sitting in a vegan cafe in downtown Toronto with headphones dangled from my ears, eating a smoothie bowl that probably cost as much as my phone bill. I stopped mid-slurp to jot this down in the Notes app on my phone.

Every time I opened my Notes to record a new song I liked or type in a grocery list I stopped mid-whatever-I-was-doing to take it in. It sunk in deeper every time, like marinade for my soul. Dr. Brene Brown wasn’t the first person to talk to me about gratitude; the first person to teach me the importance of gratitude was my mom.

My Mom: Strength born from gratitude.

My mom is the strongest woman I know. Through trials and tribulations, I would watch her break down crying at Cineplex commercials about snowmen but stand with strength and vigour through her painful divorce, the death of a parent, or the sickness of a child. Sometimes I would call her in distress, wailing about the latest troubles plaguing me and I would hear her slow inhale and exhale through the receiver.

“Think about all that you have to be grateful for.”

For some reason, this answer always made me a bit twitchy with annoyance. I wanted her sympathy. I wanted her to tell me how rough I had it and present me with a fast solution. How was gratitude going to help me pay rent at the end of the month? How was gratitude going to stop my boyfriend from cheating on me? How was gratitude going to accept my resume, conquer my anxiety, or curb my constant craving for chocolate covered pretzels past 11 pm?

The energy of being grateful.

Years later, I was out of school, living on my own and waking up before sunrise to sit quietly and tune in to a mediation. I selected a morning mediation and sat back on my floor. Turns out this particular track was all about gratitude. It sent me on a guided journey to whole-hearted appreciation. As it concluded, it instructed me to place my hands over my eyes and let the gratitude for all I have wash over me.

Before I knew it, I was sobbing. The image of my bright light of a mom, my caring loving dad, my excited and curious sister, my funny and dynamic brother, my circle of friends, my cozy apartment, my health, my job, my coworkers, my creativity, my hardships, my experiences, my everything. It poured through me like a radiant cleansing energy of pure joy. This was gratitude.

Believing we have enough and we are enough.

It’s easy to believe we need something. It feels like we always need something and if we’re sitting back enjoying what we have, we’ll never quite get there. Products are getting upgrades, styles are going out of fashion, and we need to have it all.

I’ve discovered in recent months that this pursuit outside of ourselves only intensifies when we engage with it. Trying to fill a hollowed out core with food, sex, or Amazon orders, will simply hollow us out even more. When I finally sat on my floor and allowed gratitude to wash over me, I finally realized what I had was more than enough. It was here that I recognized what my mom and Dr. Brown had been saying all along. I could be at peace right here, right now.

The Challenge: 10 Days of Being Grateful

In honour of my gratitude awakening, I will be blogging my 10 days of gratitude. Whether it be small or monumental, I will be taking the time to reflect and appreciate what I have and who I am. I encourage you to do the same.