Last night I made a well-intentioned plan to sit quietly and start a gratitude journal this morning; instead, I woke up 10 minutes late. My alarm had gone off but I must have been too tired to hear it. This may have had something to do with the 1,30am and 4am booby call from the baby or maybe just an accumulation of exhausted days. Either way I was catapulted into the school run while still digging the sleepy dust out of my eyes. I had forgotten I was supposed to be grateful!
Unsurprisingly, my children didn’t share my urgency and before I knew it I was feeling frustrated and frazzled. This was definitely not a contented family moment! I didn’t seem to have the time to be grateful!
The problem with feeling this way is it becomes a snowball of negativity, getting bigger and bigger as the bad feelings build momentum. How many times have you had one of those days when it feels as if everything just goes wrong? Days like that usually start with mornings like this; but this time I was going to be proactive. I may have been in a rush but the Contented Family Project is all about prioritising happiness and gratitude above everything else, so I stopped and remembered to breath.
At this point I tried to feel grateful, I tried to list all the things that I love in my life;
- My husband (who was currently snoring after a long night shift)
- My kids (who were screaming at each other over who was sitting on the bean bag)
- My home (it was a mess)
- Food (I still hadn’t eaten breakfast)
So you can see my problem, I was just in too much of a rushed and stressed mood to be really genuinely grateful. Sure, I could make a list but what does that achieve if I didn’t feel the gratitude in my heart? It would have just been superficial and not a contented family moment.
So I stopped again and focused on breathing.
I have done some work on breathing before so I tried this two minuet technique. I may have found it challenging to find two minutes to do my make-up but don’t forget, this project is about prioritising happiness. I decided taking this time out was imperative.
After these two minutes I genuinely felt more in control. I had stopped the momentum of the negative snowball and was determined to find gratitude in my morning. I didn’t have to look far.
I went back down the stairs and got the breakfast things together calmly. Realising I didn’t have time to do a journal I started to simply talk about gratitude with the kids. We talked about what it meant and what we were grateful for as we ate.
From this conversation I learnt very important things about my children. Firstly, my eldest is grateful for the whole world and my middle child is grateful for every programme on Netflix. And I am grateful for my breath.
The day continued and there were ups and downs. There were more moments when I felt rushed and flustered but I kept remembering to breath and returned to a place where I could be grateful again.
So since last night when I decided to do a gratitude journal, I have learnt that gratitude only works if you mean it and to mean it you have to be in a clear and calm place, which for me is not the school run!
Over the next few days I will continue to work on breathing and gratitude and see if it has any real effect in increasing the happiness levels of the household. I may or may not start an actual journal, I will see if I have time!
If you have had any similar experiences trying to practice gratitude or have any tips for me please get it touch