I don’t know about you, but for me, the chaos and grief in the world has seemed particularly loud this year. In the past, these might be times when I just accepted that I was going to slip into an incapacitated sadness of sorts, anticipating that my emotions would become too raw for me to do anything but get by in my daily life, let alone take action.
I've learned over the years that to avoid reaching that state (and fast-tracking myself to depression), it can help to create what I call an "emotional buffer"; inner self care that allows me to be open to reality without feeling too sensitive to cope with it.
One layer of that buffer is the awareness that no matter how much hurt there is in this world, there is still so much beauty. Even the ability to remain compassionate with ourselves and others through difficult times is something to be grateful for.
Amidst all of the obstacles in the world, there are so many things that hold comfort and love. There are so many, that we may miss them if we aren’t paying attention.
I, for one, want to pay closer attention. One of the ways I’m re-focusing my attention on gratitude this week is by making a list of 500 specific things I’m grateful for. Yup, 500. Not just what’s right in front of my nose like the breezy fall weather, good coffee, and YOU, but also the things I more often take for granted, like clean water and feeling safe in my home.
If you’d like to join me (and I hope you will), here's a guide to help you get inspiration in case you get stuck.
An important note: Please practice this gratitude exercise through the lens of self care, not the lens of self invalidation. If you find yourself starting to feel a lot of guilt instead of gratitude for the beauty in your life, please put your list away till later. While perspective can help build your emotional buffer, shame tends to erode it.
Remember, when you're coming from a place of self compassion, your ability to listen, encourage, and help others without feeling overwhelmed is so much stronger. Let gratitude help you sustain the emotional energy it takes to be present.