I’ve heard that if you do something 21 times, it becomes a habit. Or maybe 17. Or 35. Whatever.
The point is that doing something over and over makes it part of the day’s unconscious choreography, something as easy and mindless as breathing.
For me, these steps include my morning migration to the coffee maker, driving to and from work, and a daily episode of self-loathing.
No wonder I’ve felt so miserable for so long. I’ve made feeling horrible a part of every day—an act as routine as taking my anti-depressant, feeding my dogs, and telling Brad, “sweet dreams” before bed.
This weekend, I spent time with three of the most positive women I’ve ever met. Despite dealing with challenges unlike anything I’ve ever known—unfathomably tough stuff that wouldn’t be out of place in Lifetime Television for Women movies or Oprah’s favorite novels—these women remained upbeat, encouraging, and supportive.
24 hours later, back at home and thinking about the weekend, I’ve realized that I can’t continue to dwell here, in this negative place. My outlook must change.
I’ve been focusing so hard on micro-problems—small areas of my life that aren’t perfect—I’ve been blind to the many blessings in my life.
I’m so lucky; I know that. But I think it’s going to take more than just knowing to make gratitude a daily part of my life. To make it routine enough to replace the daily tirade of negative comments I direct at myself. I think it’s going to take repetition. Conscious awareness. Saying it out loud. Writing it down.
The little things—my bad haircut, the dry patch of skin on my chin, my lack of skill at any number of sports—absolutely don’t matter when compared to Brad’s well-being, my family’s good health, my dogs being able to run pain-free, living in a comfortable home.
I can stand and walk and run and jump. I have a functioning mind. I can drive myself to work. I have a job. I have reliable transportation. I get to take classes and pursue hobbies and plan vacations. I am lucky, I am fortunate, I am blessed.
So, because even though half of Persephone’s routine was dwelling in the underworld for six months every year, the other half saw her returning to the Earth to deliver growth and blossoms and promise and hope.
Now that she’s back—having brought with her the baby chickadees at the feeder outside my kitchen window—I’ll make her routine my own.
Every day, gratitude.
Every day, thankfulness.
Every day, a little bit of happiness.
Today: I am unspeakably grateful for Brad.