Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Gratitude and Self Promises

In the Gratitude Miracles Journal, Cycle 7 is Gratitude Creates Wonder. 

Part of the wonder I feel after having completed that cycle … 28 weeks … 196 days … of writing my gratitudes is a sense of consistency, of being able to trust myself to do what I decided to do. Perhaps that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me it is. My life’s journey is littered with broken promises to myself.

Fortunately, most of those broken promises were discretionary, like the new year’s resolutions we make, almost expecting to break them. Gradually, as the pattern of broken promises became clear, I realized that one of the problems was not being sufficiently committed to the promise in the first place. Every commitment has a price: time, money, effort, discomfort, giving up something in order to achieve something bigger. Every change requires moving out of our comfort zone into discomfort. Making a promise without considering the discomfort factor paves the road to failure.

Whim promises. When I promise myself that I will train for a marathon (something I’ve done a couple of dozen times over the years … and never completed), I imagine the satisfaction of completing the marathon, building strength, becoming fitter, without contemplating the hours, miles, aches and blisters along the way. I neglect the discomfort factor. I have no strategies in place for dealing with the realities of training. I quit.

In the movie Glory Road, Coach Don Haskins, hall of fame basketball coach who broke the color barrier by starting five black players, said to one of his players, “If you quit now, you'll quit every day for the rest of your life!” Quitting becomes a pattern of behavior. Before making a commitment, I’m starting to consider the price and think about how I will handle the discomfort needed to keep the promise to myself.

Perfection promises. Some promises beg to be broken. No more sugar. 10,000 steps a day. Meditate an hour a day. These “shoulds” often come clusters, and I find myself embracing them as if I were perfect, as if I should be perfect. I am letting go of these perfection promises in favor of intentions to avoid sugar, walk more, find a quiet time in every day. 

Writing in my gratitude journal every day takes five minutes and focuses me on the positives in my life. It reminds me to notice the miracles in my life. It’s a promise to myself that I can keep, and keeping this small promise to myself makes me feel confident in making bigger promises.

I am currently on day 12 of a 30-day juice fast. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I first saw Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead a few years ago. My cholesterol tends to run moderately high and I want to know if a juice fast would lower it. I’ve tried to do 30 days before, but the furthest I got was 14 days. 

There is definitely discomfort involved in this promise. Not only hunger, which comes and goes, but the challenges of having a social life in this busiest of all holiday seasons. I spent a fair amount of time before I began this promise, asking myself if it was important enough to warrant the discomfort? How would I handle the worst hunger moments? (Interestingly enough, it comes exactly at 4:00 pm every day, but it turns out that a cup of hot V8 gets me through it.) How would I handle the temptations … the little voice that says, “this tiny little bit of cookie won’t matter?” (Oddly, those tiny white paper cups of free stuff at Costco … stuff that I would never want otherwise … are one of the most devilish of those little voices.) What would I do when someone wants to have a birthday dinner? (Delay … the 30-days will be over soon.) What would I do when I forget why I’m doing this in the first place? (Rewatch the movie, schedule the appointment to have my cholesterol checked, write about why I’m doing this in the first place.)

Keeping my commitment to write my gratitudes every day is making me more confident in making bigger promises to myself. To help with this specific commitment to do a 30-day juice fast, I am going to comment to this post every day or so until I reach my objective. I’ll also report the results of my cholesterol check.


  1. It's Day 16. It's been raining for several days and I'm feeling cooped up and bored. And, of course, my mind turns to food. In my mind, I've been perfecting a recipe for dressing without the turkey. They say people in prison camps did that ... mentally cook their favorite foods, arguing over how much paprika to use. I need to get outside!

  2. It's now Day 26 and it's getting easier ... and harder. Easier because I know the routine and I've made it this far. Harder because I'm so close, part of me thinks it would be okay to just stop now. Plus, food is getting closer and my mind is playing games with what comes next when what comes next is a re-entry period of mainly veggies. Hang in there, Joyce.

  3. Day 29 and my mind is trying to game the system ... what's the difference between 30 days and 29 days? Why not stop now ... it really doesn't make any difference.

    Yes, Joyce, it does make a difference. It's the difference between keeping the commitment to yourself and going back on your word. Arrrgghhhh!