Today, I'm guest posting on Write It Sideways, an excellent blog and resource for writers. The topic? Gratitude. Something I quite honestly suck at.
I'm naturally a negative, cynical person. For the longest time this destroyed my art. And I'm not the only one.
Many writers, I've found, are just like me in this respect. Maybe it's our intuition or focus on the inner life, but we tend to be sensitive, slightly neurotic folk who are always looking for the downside of something (even when there isn't one!).
We need to stop. And we need to stop now.
Well, because no one was ever inspired by someone who just complained about stuff. And that's why you endeavored to be a writer in the first place, right — to change things?
I thought so.
So let's get started. Here's how we begin counting our blessings.
Tell the truth
Be honest. It's not as bad as you think it is. When you say, “Nobody cares what I write,” you don't mean it, do you? I don't care who you are or how crappy your content is. Someone out there cares. I promise. (That doesn't mean you should keep writing, crap, though.)
Say what you're grateful for, out loud
Tim Sanders taught me this. I try to do it every morning. Before I start my day, I go through the previous day, and I thank God for something that I can truly grateful for (usually a few things).
Then, I do the same for the coming day — almost as a prayer of what I hope will go right today. As crazy and positive-thinky as this sounds, it works. And it's pretty easy. Give it a try.
Think of those worse off than you
Don't be morbid or give way to an entitlement mindset, but consider your circumstances relative to the rest of the world. If you're reading this, you're in a place of remarkable privilege that the majority of the world doesn't enjoy.
Why are you squandering such position on feeling sorry for yourself? You have a lot to be grateful for — a computer, a house, supporting friends and family, opportunity to advance yourself in life, and so on.
Don't insult those who lack such basic necessities and opportunities by being a grump today. Look at your garbage. Yes, your garbage. How much do you waste every week? Even that is a luxury that many do not have.
Remind yourself that, although you may not be as good as you like, you do indeed have a gift. Others have told you so. So be grateful for what you have — your talent, your wealth, your relationships.
It may not be as much as you like, but it's what you have to work with. Use it and thank God for it.
Gratitude is not a feeling
It's a discipline. Something you habitually practice. And the more you do it, the better you get. I know this, because I've done it (in my own awkward way). And you can, too.
I hope you will. Because the world doesn't need another drunk, bitter writer. We need hope. Will you give it to us?
[specialbox]For more on why you should begin practicing gratitude (and how to do it), read my guest post on Write It Sideways: Become a Better Writer by Practicing Gratitude.[/specialbox]