Not so long ago I wrote about my very simple daily gratitude practice. To summarize: every night, before I go to bed, I take out a pen and paper and write down three things I feel grateful for.
Like so many routines, the practice can feel insignificant when you’re doing it, but these moments of micro-attention to the subtle joy and beauty in life can have a profound impact on how connected you feel to the world around you and to the good things in it.
Today, I want to talk a bit about a companion practice I’ve developed, one which initially might seem opposed to the ideals behind the gratitude work. I call this my “worry practice.”
The worry practice is just as simple as the gratitude version: you write down three things that are bothering you, except in this case, the goal is to release rather than draw greater attention to what you’re noting.
I think of this practice as a prequel to the gratitude version—a kind of palate cleanser. I don’t do it every night. I turn to it as needed.
How do I know it’s needed?
Sometimes, when I take out that journal at night and open it up, pen in hand, ready to note three things I’m grateful for, all that comes to mind is a grocery list, the fact that I didn’t vacuum the kitchen like I’d wanted to that day and obsessive thoughts about how my dogs are going to die. Super fun, super useful, super light stuff!
I know my moments of gratitude are in there somewhere, but they are buried under layers of miscellaneous anxiety and worry.
I find that if I give those worries a few moments of their own on the page—if I really air them out—the skies usually clear.
Our minds naturally overvalue things that are stressing us out and undervalue things that are beautiful and good.
The idea behind the gratitude practice is to train your mind to highlight and pay attention to the good.
The idea behind the worry practice is to clear your mind of anxieties so that it can truly experience gratitude. Together, both practices are about emphasis, not avoidance.
After all, it's human nature to experience worry. As women, we are particularly trained to view problems as our job to solve. A strong gratitude practice helps soften our inclination to view life through what I like to call the "anxiety lens". But sometimes, in order to do that, you have to clear a path first. The worry practice is about clearing that path.
Have you ever worked with a gratitude practice? And if so, would you consider a supplemental worry practice? We would love to know more about your personal experiences with these approaches. Share in the comments below!
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