Week 2 of Gratitude: Appreciating Your Progress

Welcome to Soul Studies -- prompts and questions to explore GRATITUDE in your life, business and creativity.

This is your weekly wake up call to spend that 15 minutes, go back to your values, and actually let the monthly theme permeate your consciousness and your daily life.

So… pour yourself your favorite beverage, open up a journal, and commit yourself to the prompts and exercises below! This is how you leverage your Color Your Soul subscription the most -- by absorbing these insights and then actually applying them in your life!

Week 2:

Appreciating Your Progress

As human beings, we are always adapting. It’s in our DNA.

The good news there is that even in negative circumstances, we have wiring that equips us for survival. The bad news there is that in positive circumstances, that same wiring often prevents us from staying fully aware of just how good things really are.

I see it in my own life all the time. For instance, as I shared with you in my Editor's Letter this month, my financial situation has changed drastically in a span of two years. I went from over-drafted accounts and maxed out credit cards to (very thankfully) no longer breaking into a cold sweat every time I log into my bank portal. I can splurge on the occasional nice dinner when I want and not freak if an unexpected expense pops up. BUT, based on that progress you'd think I wake up every morning thanking my lucky stars, yet some days I struggle to. That's that darn hedonic adaptation rearing it's ugly head again! Translation: We get used to the good stuff.  

Not to mention progress often happens so slowly that we don’t even recognize it as progress. Sometimes I look down at a piece of art I’ve created and I think “Gosh, that’s not very good.” Then I do a quick scan in my photos on my phone or take a look at my Instagram feed a year or two years ago and realize: a lot of what I can do with my art now I didn’t even KNOW how to do back then.

Suddenly it puts everything in perspective and I’m able to see my work with less criticism and more appreciation.

Perspective is a tool we can use to bring gratitude into our awareness.

That’s what I want today’s journal prompts to be about.

  • What’s one area of your life that you’re grateful for now but that you feel you take for granted (ie. you rarely think about how grateful you are for it.) Is there a moment in your life that provides context and perspective to help you see that thing more clearly in a light of gratitude?

  • Think of where you are today and what you plan to do (or what you did if you're reading this at night!).

    • Write down five ways you feel more vibrant NOW than you did at another time in your life. The purpose here is not to color the past with regret or pain but instead to bring awareness to a few ways that you’ve gained wisdom or made choices which deserve your attention, and yes, your gratitude.

  • Half Full Exercise: Is there one particular hurdle you’ve been facing lately that you have trouble taking gratitude in? Is there a way to reframe that situation from a new perspective so that you might see how it could be something to be grateful for?

    • Side note: While I think the whole “glass half full” approach gets flack for being overly idealistic, I don’t think that makes it any less useful in offering up moments to be grateful for. And I for one would rather walk around with feelings of thankfulness than dread or anger.

    • My example: There is a lot to be concerned and disheartened about in national/world politics from this past week, but using perspective as my tool, amidst all of that I can feel seeds of activism and advocacy sprouting up in me that I didn’t even know existed. I’m seeing my deep beliefs revealed to me through adversity. For that I’m grateful. (Notice is doesn't mitigate or erase the negative; it simply brings awareness to elements of reality that perhaps we might have missed by only focusing on the glass half empty.)

Those are just a few exercises that might help you use this powerful tool we call perspective and combat that hedonic treadmill programming that is ingrained in us. The more moments throughout the day when we can stop, take a breath and see our circumstances through a comparative lens (of our own experiences), the more we can continue to get value from the here and now.