I’ve been on a gratitude journey since 1997. My practice consists of these two simple actions:
- Notice at least five things a day to be grateful for and WRITE them down in my journal
- Share gratitude freely – in words, notes, and other acts of kindness
I have found that this simple practice enables me to be more positive, more balanced, and more resilient.
Yet here is the thing. Even though I’ve been diligent with gratitude for the past fifteen years, bad stuff still happens. People I love die or get sick or struggle. Work has lulls that cause me to fret. Plans go awry. I stumble and make humbling mistakes. The news of the world dismays me.
And despite hardship, failed plans, disappointments, and frustrations, I continue to practice gratitude.
Not because everything is sunny and wonderful. But because, even in those challenging times, there is a little bit of goodness. A good laugh as the tears flow. The touch of a friend when I’m sad. The helping hands that offer assistance when I’m burdened.
Over time, the following insights have become clear.
No one or no one practice can protect you from life’s ups and downs.
Ups and downs are part of the agreement of being human. We care; we get hurt. We are mortals; our bodies betray us. We do our best; it is not enough. There is no insurance, no magic formula. Period.
You get more of what you focus on.
Before my gratitude practice, I was exceptional at finding the flaws, bemoaning the bad, and naming what was wrong in almost every situation. Now, I focus more on finding the good hidden inside the bad. Not only do I see more that is good, but I also invite it in. And the more I invite it in, the more it answers the call.
There is always something to be grateful for – if you just look for it.
I continue to be amazed at the number of things to be grateful for once you pay attention. I have pages and pages in journal after journal filled with gratitudes. Five things a day times fifteen years adds up to a whopping 27,375 good things.
Little things matter.
Listing gratitudes revealed to me an interesting pattern. Many of the things that I was most grateful for and that brought me the most joy were common, everyday things. Crocuses breaking through the hard winter ground. Sunshine on a cool day. The laughter of a child. The hug of a friend.
Gratitude sustains me.
Grouchy? Gloomy? Grumpy? Garrulous? All the more reason to pause a moment and ask what you are grateful for. In the midst of the mess. As your heart is heavy. When you are weary and annoyed. It is in those times that gratitude works its magic. I become more hopeful. I find my balance and know, deep down, that this too shall pass.
I’m grateful to you for reading my thoughts – and I encourage you to pause a moment daily and be grateful. And if you are interested in reading my previous work on gratitude, here are some blogs you might enjoy!