Gratitude. Something we know we should have, but few of us actually practice well. What is it? Is it an act, is it a feeling? Why is it important? Growing up, we were always told “Say thank you” and “Be grateful”. These often felt more like social norms, rather than intentional acts. To demystify it, I thought I would spend a little time on what gratitude means to me and how I define it.
As I have gotten older and continued my personal development journey, gratitude has become a crucial part of my everyday life. For me, it is an act, much like going to the gym or going for a run. It is something I force myself to do daily, in order to strengthen that “muscle”. This practice encourages me to continue looking for the positive things in my life, rather than expecting the negative. For me, it started as an act to change a way of thinking rather than searching for a feeling. That said, I do think gratitude can create feelings during the practice.
We all know that living in this country, we have it better than the majority of the rest of the world. I won’t spend time listing off the stats of why we are better off, but you can read about that here or here.
What I want to share is that by actually reviewing the little things in your life, it allows you to recognize that life is great right now! It’s not some idea far off in the future that “if I can only get that promotion” or “once I make six figures, then I’ll be happy”. It’s a way to see that the world you live in is extremely abundant and the more you recognize that, the more you attract those things.
Sure, life sucks sometimes, and it’s not always easy, but I like to say “It is easier to stay in shape, then get in shape”. So, that means it’s important to make this a daily practice, rather than something you only do when you perceive things going your way. There are lessons to be learned and knowledge to be gained in all events, both good and bad, so you should always have something to be grateful for, even if it’s only that.
Here is the easiest way to start. Write down three things every morning that you are grateful for. It literally takes five minutes. You could even get one of these 5 Minute Journals, which were a huge hit at our last holiday party, but you don’t even need that. Use your phone, a pad of paper, a journal or the back of an envelope for all I care.
Now I know what you’ll say next, “but what is there to be grateful for.” I’m glad you asked. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose or extravagant thing that happened in your life. In fact, that’s what I’m trying to steer you away from. Focus on the simple things because those are the things that sustain us. Here are a few from my actual list in the past week:
● Coffee - This makes my list almost everyday in a house full of three kids where sleep can sometimes be a challenge. That warm cup in the morning gets me going and I’m grateful to have it handy at every moment.
● My home - It still amazes me to have a beautiful, safe roof over my head to share with my family.
● Early morning time with Eli - My son sometimes wakes me up extra early. While I am really tired and don’t want to get up, it is always those times that we have the closest moments. Grateful for that because it will only be a matter of time before he’s too old to snuggle with dad.
● My train ride - Though it’s late sometimes, there is no comparison to the amount of time I would spend in traffic driving. Grateful to have a city that has this type of extensive public transit.
● Avocado toast - I love my avocado toast and I am so grateful to have access to healthy food whenever I want it.
You get the point. I’m purposefully sharing the simple ones with you. Sure, there are others that are bigger and maybe even more important, but these are the things that help me realize what an amazing life I live, day in and day out.
Now get to it and let me know if I can help! Leave me a note about what you have to be grateful for below.