Each year, I choose a Word for the Year. Something to guide my thoughts and attitude, and hopefully create new habits. This year’s word: Gratitude.
If you are like me, and if you peruse some of the self-help hippy-dippy web sites and magazines that I peruse, you’ve probably heard plenty about “The Power of Gratitude!” and “Keeping a Gratitude Journal will Change Your Life!” and so on and so forth. And, if you are as naturally cynical as I, you’ve probably thought: “Yeah, so maybe I’ll feel better for 10 minutes, but how can it really make a difference?”
For the past six months or so, I’ve been writing gratitude lists in my journal. Every day (OK, well, almost every day!), I write down three things for which I am grateful. I try to get specific. For example, I don’t write “I’m grateful for my home.” Instead, I’ll write something like “I am grateful that my home has a fireplace, and that I’ve put up twinkle lights and lit candles, so it feels extra cozy and warm on a gray and snowy day.”
I can report back as follows: It works. GRATITUDE WORKS. Having a regular gratitude habit has shifted my perspective even when I am not writing in my journal.
Gratitude has changed me
For example, I was talking to my cousins lately about this most recent round of covid quarantines and shut downs. My cousins have a very young child who cannot be vaccinated, so their family of three is in semi-lockdown these days. They are not really visiting friends and family, and not really leaving their home all that much. I was empathizing with their situation, and how stressful and isolating – and downright exhausting – it must be. In some ways, and for some families, it feels like March 2020 all over again. I also said “Look how far we’ve come!” We have masks (I’m not searching online for “how to sew a mask”). We have vaccines. We have toilet paper! We’ve figured out how to work and learn online; it’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but we can do it. I’m vaxxed and boosted and not afraid of dying or ending up on a ventilator. I have fear of the virus, but not paralyzing, lie-awake-in-bed-all-night-worrying fear. I’m SO grateful for all the things we have now that we didn’t have at the beginning of the pandemic. I hate the virus, and at the same time I’m so grateful for everyone who has helped bring us to this point.
Who IS this person!? I’m supposed to be a cynic! I’ve become grateful, even when unprompted!
I also find that I am telling people how grateful I am for them. Grateful for my daughter. Grateful for my friends and family. Grateful for my colleagues. Grateful for my daughter’s teachers and counselors.
I’m grateful for the friends and family who thought of me on my birthday earlier this month, and for those who were able to come to my roller rink birthday party! Plenty of friends couldn’t make it, either because they had a conflict or they just didn’t feel comfortable being out and about during the omicron surge. But that’s OK! I don’t begrudge anyone that, and I’m so grateful for the folks who were able to join me.
I will continue this gratitude practice throughout 2022. I’ll also share it with others, because it might help them, too.
Can you create a habit of gratitude?
Can you be grateful for what you have?
Can you think of three things to be grateful for every day?
Can you TELL people you are grateful for them?
Can you show gratitude to your colleagues, clients, and professional community?
If you work at a nonprofit, can show gratitude for your donors, without asking them for anything?
If you have a gratitude practice that brightened your day or changed your life for the better, tell us about it in the comments!
Grateful for you, dear reader…
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