Navy background with star borders. Quote about exercising gratitude

“I’m utterly convinced the key to lifelong success is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle: GRATITUDE!” —Geoffrey James

I have a confession to make. I’m not naturally hopeful or grateful. I’m just not. I assume the worst, catastrophize, and take everything for granted in my natural state of mind and emotions. I know what you’re thinking — “How in the world is she the Inspiration Engineer for Hope Inc. Stories?”

But then I remember the dark places I’ve been, the work I put in (and still do), and how I’ve overcome so much. It’s in those memories that my hope, positivity, and gratitude became a reality. I love this quote because since the beginning of my recovery I said that practicing gratitude was just as hard as convincing myself to go to the gym. I know it’ll help. I know it will make a difference and have a positive impact on me, but getting myself to follow through feels nearly impossible.

So what did I do to get myself past that hurdle? Accountability. I sought out people that were willing to get a text from me every single day with a list of five things I’m grateful for in my life. Initially, it was hard, just like lifting weights at the gym. I was timid and weak and spent a lot of time shaking from the emotional and mental effort. Over time it got easier and the gratitude lists became longer. Now sending out my gratitude list is second nature and the list of people that receive it has gotten longer. It’s been tough mentally and emotionally to overcome my own hurdles and build my gratitude muscle, but looking back it has transformed who I am today.

I still stress, worry, catastrophize and take way too much for granted. I’m also quicker to see the positives, the silver linings, the things I’m grateful for, and the ways I cannot only be hopeful but now I carry the hope for others as they work on their own gratitude journey. My challenge to you is to find one person that you can text, call, or email each day with at least three things you are grateful for in life. (Start small and work up to more!) Watch as time passes and you too will see your gratitude muscle grow strong until you are the hope others see in the world.

Sarah Deats

Sarah Deats is a Behavioral Health Technician at RI International and the Hope Inc. Stories Inspiration Engineer.