A while back, I wrote about how to be grateful even when you’re not. Today I’d like to expand on that, by introducing some exercises to keep gratefulness top of mind.
My friend Cary recently started writing a blog called Unrequited Bob, where he lists three things for which he is grateful, plus a brief description of a positive experience he had that day. He also is intentional about committing at least one random act of kindness every day and he writes about that as well. His blog has been an inspiration for me. As a reader, it’s been cool to see how Cary always manages to find things to be grateful for, even on what would normally be considered a bad day.
Cary’s blog reminds me of the gratitude journal I used to keep. My mom learned from Oprah that keeping such a journal does wonders for one’s mental health, so she bought me and my sister journals, where we wrote five things for which we were grateful every day. It wasn’t overly time-consuming. I usually just wrote one sentence for each item. (“I’m grateful that I had pizza for dinner.”) But it turns out ol’ Oprah was right, as usual (*eye roll*). I began searching for things throughout the day that I could add to my journal and was surprised at how easy it was. Oftentimes I listed more than five! Sometimes the items were basic (aka, the aforementioned pizza) and others were true breakthroughs for me. Most of them were things I might not have noticed if I weren’t keeping the journal.
Tangible exercises like Cary’s blog and my gratitude journal really change the way you look at your day. Instead of brooding about the few bad things that may have happened, you focus instead on the many blessings in your daily life. And once you realize just how blessed you are, it changes your whole perspective on life. Plus, gratitude is contagious. Other people will notice a change in you, and they’ll want that for themselves.
Whether it’s a blog like Cary’s or a gratitude journal like mine or some other variation, I hope you’ll be intentional about searching for the goodness in your life and documenting that goodness in some way. It’ll benefit you in more ways than you can imagine. And for that, you can be grateful.