In my Gratitude Log entry today (not pictured), my first point was on being sad. And this was an achievement to me. Why?
Because being grateful on a bad day isn’t easy compared to when everything is going our way. You know how annoying it can be when all we want to do is bury ourselves in a blanket and cry, and then someone comes telling us to “count our blessings”.
While it’s true that there is always something to be grateful for, I believe it’s equally important to not push aside or ignore our feelings. I believe that if we want to cry, it is healthier to allow ourselves to sob our frustrations away instead of forcing ourselves to suppress those tears.
Here is an important tip I've learned on how to practise gratitude on a bad day:
ACKNOWLEDGE, ACCEPT AND LET GO OF YOUR FEELINGS FIRST.
I have learned that it is after allowing myself to feel a particular difficult emotion and acknowledging it that I then easily come out of it. I would then see it from a different perspective, consequently finding something to be thankful from it.
This relates to my earlier post on the “drive-thru” of feelings.
The 'drive-thru' was an analogy I created, but a therapist once described to me this very "drive-thru" process beautifully - imagine our difficult feelings on dried leaves floating on a river. Acknowledge them, give them names, accept them, and then watch them float away. Picturing them this way will give us some form of calmness, and will train us towards being mindful of our feelings.
Earlier this morning for example, I felt sad about being late for my Fajr prayer. The sadness bugged me for a bit, leading to anxiety as I then worried in between tears that I would not have a good day if I didn’t start it right and if I didn’t pray on time.
I named this sadness “Pergi” (a Malay word which meant “go”), representing my wish to have that lateness for prayers go away forever. I pictured Pergi on a dried leaf, on a peaceful river stream.
Pergi flowed away eventually, perhaps into an ocean of possibilities. Because I, for one, discovered the beautiful possibility of experiencing gratitude even towards sadness.
I was grateful for feeling sad about being late for my prayer this morning, because it meant that Allah is in my heart. And this gratitude instantly lifted me up.
So if you’re ever having a bad day or dealing with a difficult feeling, give it a little 'drive-thru' procedure. Acknowledge that feeling, give it a nice name, accept it, and then let it go. This may just lead to an entry in a Gratitude Log AND a smile on your face. :)