A Thanksgiving Post about Everyday Gratitude

Six months ago I started incorporating a new ritual into my normal routine. This simple practice only takes a few minutes each day, yet the impact has been profound. Since its inception, my health has improved, my relationships have improved, and my overall outlook on life has improved. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. To be fair, I will disclose that I have taken other steps that contributed to the shift. This habit isn’t solely responsible for my transformation, but I believe it has had a purely positive effect. It only requires two steps: first, make a deliberate choice to experience the world in a certain way; second, put pen to paper. The ritual is keeping a gratitude journal.

gratitude journal
The world can be a brutal place, making it difficult to look at the glass as half full. It may not come naturally at first, but applying an appreciative filter really can flip your perspective. Like any skill you wish to develop,  cultivating an attitude of gratitude takes work before it becomes a part of your makeup and not just a fleeting state. For me, the first week or so of journaling felt like just another chore on my to-do list. That feeling soon changed, and I began to look forward to the time I’d spend acknowledging and savoring the beauty of my day.

I swear, the investment is worthwhile, but don’t just take my word for it! Studies have shown that individuals who identify things they are grateful for, compared to those who focus on problems in their lives, are more likely to exercise regularly, feel better physically and be more optimistic. Researchers have also found that jotting down these observations may help with achievement—in one study, people who kept a list of things they were thankful for over a two-month period were more likely to have reached an important goal. I can attest to this side effect as I’ve achieved more goals recently than I have in years, especially in the area of fitness.

As I sat down today to write, I flipped back through the pages of my journal. Some of the entries were about small, seemingly insignificant observations and others were about deeply meaningful connections and moments. All of them made my heart smile. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’ll share some here.

Today I’m grateful for:

  • A peaceful walk through the desert on my lunch break
  • Freshly laundered sheets
  • My dad’s eccentric sense of humor
  • A beautiful quilt made for me by a favorite family friend
  • Reaching a new fitness goal and having a healthy body that will take me to the next target
  • Otis Redding’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is”
  • PIE
  • A phone call from a friend
  • Trying something new and liking it
  • Trying something new and not liking it, but now I know
  • My little sister/best friend
  • Tocca Florence Eau de Parfum
  • Taking a chance and meeting someone who piqued my curiosity
  • Receiving a handwritten postcard
  • A hot, fragrant bath by candlelight
  • Working for a company that empowers people to live healthier, more joyful lives
  • Talk box for making every song more awesome
  • A knowing smile
  • The breathtaking colors of a Tucson sunset
  • An amazing leather jacket
  • My mom, for always being so loving and generous
  • Naps
  • A glorious foot massage
  • The mirthful spirits of my standard poodle puppies, Mousse & Mabel
  • A first kiss that inspired butterflies
  • Spending a week in Coronado on my first solo vacation
  • Jeff Beck in an epic monsoon storm
  • Wanting to do something special for someone I care about
  • Being able to have an open, honest and productive conversation
  • A dear friend’s compliment: “You are the most complete, self-actualized person I know.”
  • Spending a stress-free, healthy Thanksgiving with my family

So, think about it: What are you grateful for today? Ideas will start pouring in when you make a conscious effort to become more acutely aware of your surroundings and more present in your interactions. Write down your blessings, big and small, and see what happens. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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