Simple things… they are the things that make everything in life so much sweeter. Recognizing these morsels of sweetness can be both difficult and rewarding, but being grateful for each one is even more important. It’s the idea of developing an Attitude of Gratitude that can be your individual key to happiness.
Think about a time when you were given some bad news. Maybe it had to do with a medical diagnosis you didn’t expect to hear. Did you face it head-on or did you bury your head in the sand? Did you work to think about all the positive things that are possible or did you dwell on what you may eventually lose? Did you turn to God for His divine support or did you close yourself off and try to handle everything on your own? Your reaction, and ultimately your attitude, is a choice… it’s one that you’ll make daily in both large and small ways, but understand that it is a choice. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be miserable. This is where I believe that an attitude of gratitude comes into play.
It’s not easy to be grateful for everything in your life, but your life will be infinitely better if you are grateful… for everything. I love this blog post in Psychology Today that talks about how developing a habit of gratitude can lead to happiness. I had never read this blog posting before, but I have uses their suggested technique many times over the years. Each time, there’s been a large event (medical diagnosis, move, etc) that has precipitated my need to focus on the positive aspects of my life… and each time, this plan has helped me turn my mental focus into something more productive.
The idea is simple… which is why it works so incredibly well. Each night, before you lay head to pillow, take a piece of paper and write down three things for which you are grateful. I’m not suggesting that you write a paragraph about your day and how things went… that’s not the reason for this exercise. Your list can be as short and concise as the following:
- Got dressed before 10AM
- Ate lunch
- Talked/texted with my sister
Nothing exciting or overly thrilling, but these three small things help you recognize that there were some positive aspects to your day. If I were to write a list from yesterday, it would look like this:
- Spent time with my cousins
- Spent time with my entire family (both boys included)
- Made a really cool dessert that M suggested and everyone loved
Nothing earth-shattering, but it reminds me that I now live in MD, so we’re close enough to be able to do this more often than we have in the past. It’s the simple aspect of spending time with family that sweetens my day and allows me to appreciate those moments even more than I might have otherwise.
I also want to add this short vine of a llama jumping across the field. Each time I see it, it makes me laugh and that can easily be one of those things for your journal. This animal is simply hopping across the pen, but listening to the music that’s been added can make just about anyone laugh hysterically. It’s something totally unexpected and incongruent with your expectations of this animal… and it makes you grateful for the person who thought of putting these two things together. See? Two of your “three things” for the day done in less than one minute…. Bam!
Don’t wait until you have “the perfect notebook” or “the perfect pen” before you start a journal of gratitude. Your attitude and your outlook is more important than the paper upon which you will write. It’s the physical act of putting pen to paper, coupled with the mental exercise of focusing on the positive, that’s most important. Promise yourself that you’ll commit to writing in your journal every night for a month before you reevaluate this project. Developing an attitude of gratitude is not something that happens overnight… it happens over time.
I wish you a more positive tomorrow and a brighter outlook for your future.