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The Blog of Emily McDowell Studio

On Gratitude: Celebrating Jenipher Lyn's Book Launch!

The sweet, bubbly and lovely Jenipher Lyn is a social media friend-turned real life friend (I love those!). She recently wrote and illustrated a book for tween and teen girls, filled with encouraging, loving and important messages, called "How Being Stubborn, Depressed and Unpopular Saved My Life."  Jenipher says: As part of her "book launch blog party" (brilliant idea, btw!) Jenipher asked me to contribute a doodle and blog post about gratitude, the subject of her book's final chapter. For those of us with more cynical tendencies, gratitude is one of those things that seems like it might fall into the category of "Pinterest spirituality." You know, inspirational quotes superimposed over pictures of nature that make you think "Yes! This will TOTALLY make my life better." The bad news is that none of those quotes are going to make your life better, in and of themselves. (If that were the case, every person with a Pinterest account would have achieved permanent enlightenment by now.) But what I will say, from my own personal experience, is that every once in a while, one of those quotes might ring true for you, and inspire you to take action and change some stuff in your life that isn't working. And THAT is what's going to make your life feel better. Having a daily, conscious gratitude practice -- basically, counting your blessings instead of counting the ways the universe is screwing you -- is super easy, free, and has made a gigantic difference in my own personal outlook. I theoretically have a daily gratitude journal in which I write 5 things I'm grateful for that day, but realistically, I make mental lists while I'm sitting in traffic, and the journal is lost under my bed somewhere and covered in cat hair. I'm happy to report that mental traffic lists seem to work just as well. I also use gratitude as a reset button, on days when everything seems overwhelming and ridiculous and terrible. It's a good way to get my brain out of a Spiral of Awfulness. Even if the things I'm grateful for are, like, coffee with extra shots of espresso and the internet. That's okay. It's not really about WHAT you're grateful for. It's more about training your brain to replace "life sucks" with "thank you," because "thank you" feels so much better. We live our lives moment by moment. (Trust me, there are lots of brilliant quotes about this that are way better than what I just said.) But it's true: the only time we REALLY have is the moment we're in, right now. Everything else is a memory or a projection. And my personal, independent research has concluded the fact below to be true.