This past weekend, my family and I celebrated an early Thanksgiving. Although the holiday is only next week, Isabelle and I will be out of the city for most of the weekend, so we thought we would simplify matters by inviting the family to our house for an early Thanksgiving dinner. This got me reflecting on everything that I am thankful for in my life. And this, in turn, got me thinking about my topic for this post – gratitude.
Show of hands – how many of you are truly and honestly aware of everything you are grateful for on a daily basis? Do you take the time to record, or at least register, daily gratitudes? A gratitude journal is a tremendous tool to add into your daily routine. I’ve been using one off and on for the past few years now, and I can say that I am in a much better frame of mind when I am consciously recognizing, and giving thanks for, all the wonderful things in my life.
Gratitude journals are known to help reduce stress, gain a better perspective on what’s truly important in life, help you become more self-aware and cognizant of what you truly want to put your focus on in life, and can serve as a tool to boost your spirits on those days when you’re feeling a little blue. Have you had a bad day? Pull out your gratitude journal and look at all the nice things that you have in your life.
The act of keeping a gratitude journal doesn’t have to be exhaustive or challenging. As small as noting three things for which you are grateful every day can do wonders for your soul. And the items you list don’t have to be a series of big, amazing things. The best items to be grateful for are the small, everyday items that we often overlook. As part of a self-help program that I’ve been doing over the past four months, I have been keeping a list of 20 daily gratitudes. While you don’t have to write 20 things every day, I would urge someone who is just starting off to set themselves a target of 20-30 per day for at least a week. Build up that routine until it becomes second nature.
What kinds of things should you be grateful for? I’m willing to bet that most of you just had at least one thing pop into their mind when I asked that question. Without knowing what it is you thought of, that is something you should be thankful for. Because we can and should be thankful for everything in our lives.
In case you’re struggling, here are a few examples of things you could be grateful for:
- I woke up this morning
- My body allowed me to physically get out of bed
- I have a bed
- I have a house/apartment in which I live
- The roof is keeping the rain off my head
- I have food in my fridge/kitchen
- There is running water in my faucet
- My favourite mug was in the cupboard this morning
- The sun is shining today
- Rain is watering the Earth and giving life to so many living things
- The car that splashed me and drenched me while I was walking home from work today (yes, I am even thankful for that because it forced me to laugh at myself for looking like a wet rat on the side if the street, and helped me get over myself and realize that my day hadn’t been that bad)
- My cat was waiting for me affectionately by the door
- I can access the internet from my house (or even from my phone)
- I read this awesome blog on gratitude
The more you recognize what you have to be grateful for, the easier it will be to see more things for which to be grateful. Don’t take anything you have for granted. It’s so easy to just get lost in the daily hustle and bustle. Don’t fall into that trap. And stop taking yourself so seriously. Lighten up!
I will issue this challenge – for the next week, try to find at least 5 things for which you are thankful. Better yet, come share some of your gratitudes here on this blog post. Will you accept the challenge? What have you got to lose?