If Marrett were alive and aware of how negative the space inside my head is these days, he’d recommend a daily gratitude practice. But, because he’s not, I just can’t get to gratitude most days. Instead, I’ve developed this sad little game I play at the end of each day, which is possibly a step in gratitude’s direction. I call this game “At Least”.
It goes like this: at the end of each day, as I lie sleepless in my bed and my mind starts taking stock of the situation I can barely refer to as my life, I think about how the day could’ve been worse. And I take a moment to catalog the bad things that could’ve happened, but somehow didn’t.
Last night’s examples:
“At least I’m not dead too, so Ceci still has one of her parents.”
“At least I’m not sick. And the kids are sick either.”
“At least my bathroom renovation starts next week, so I have that to look forward to.”
I told you it’s a sad little game. But it makes me feel better. It regularly reminds me that even though terrible things can happen, and have, today AT LEAST they didn’t. Today, everything was status quo. Which is still really, really challenging, but today things didn’t get worse.
If something unexpectedly terrible has happened to you, then you know that it changes your brain. (For real, trauma changes your brain. Google it.) Your eyes are suddenly open to ALL THE THINGS to which you thought you were magically immune. You start to expect the worst. You enter survival mode and that is a hard mode to exit.
So, you develop strategies that get you through, like my little game before bed. You know these strategies are not meant for the long term, but that they will keep you moving forward when it’s so easy to get stuck. They will be enough for today, and there will someday come a tomorrow when you won’t need to cope, but can actually live.
Maybe you need a strategy like this to get you through these last weeks of winter, or through your seasonal depression. Maybe you are grieving like me, or maybe you’re stuck for another reason. Feel free to try my little game, and see if it helps you too.
And hey, if it doesn’t, AT LEAST you tried.