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Rose, bud, thorn

When I make a recommendation or suggestion, I don't do it lightly. It's either backed by science or based on personal experience - preferably both.

A Gratitude Practice is commonly recommended, especially when you suffer with depression. Yet, until recently, it wasn't something I practised. Yes, I do remind myself of my good fortune, especially when hitting a difficult patch or a run of bad luck. Nevertheless, when Lockdown 2 was announced covering November last year, I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth was.

Acknowledging how difficult it is to feel grateful when life is giving you a bashing, I decided it might be helpful to have a series of prompts leading to potential sources for gratitude. In order to keep myself accountable, I decided to share the prompts, together with my response to them, on my personal Facebook page. I was pleasantly surprised when a number in my friendship group joined in, later sharing how they'd found it helpful. I not only found the practice helpful, but was surprised at the wealth of ideas for prompts. I kept my 30 days of prompts fairly unchallenging, but have decided to put another one together to support the process of personal development and growth.

That initial Practice inspired me to keep an eye out for variations and twists on the practice, and I'd like to share two here with you...

The first is a relatively straightforward daily practice, but with a delightfully pragmatic addition. I saw it recommended by none other than Irish author and all round lovely human being, Marian Keyes, who's been generously open on the subject of her battles with depression. The Practice she suggested was listing three things you're grateful for, plus one thing which you have to accept because you cannot change or alter it. I love the twist in the tail, as so much about the practice of gratitude is acceptance. The very act of focussing on the positive, acknowledges the likely presence of stuff which is challenging, even the source of sadness.

The second inspired the title of my post. A blogging friend talked of something she's long practised with her family during their daily sit down dinners. Each person around the table is asked to share one high point and one low point of their day. The purpose was two-fold: firstly so the parents had an opportunity to hear about difficult stuff going on in their children's lives early enough for them to be able to provide support, and secondly so their children could understand that adult life isn't always a bed of roses. The overarching intention was to develop resilience through communication and support. But when her daughter returned from college, she suggested a modification - something she called 'Rose, Bud, Thorn'. Rose being the high point, Thorn being the low point (or something which requires acceptance), with the addition of Bud - something to look forward to. Or as my blogging friend described it - she introduced Hope to their daily practice.

While you are building your Gratitude Practice, and your Acceptance Practice, do remember to include Hope.

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