Gratitude is one of those complex human experiences, like happiness or love, that can utterly melt your brain if you try to explore it logically. And yet, much like happiness and love, that same overwhelming complexity can one day, when you least expect it, give way to simplicity and reflect your life right back to you through a whole new lens. Woah, did I just blow your mind? Stay with me here…
The day this happened to me was just shy of two years ago when I heard someone take the gigantic notion of gratitude and distill it down to one easy, applicable, and very doable daily exercise. What they prescribed was this: each day when you wake up (every single day), make your very first thought one of gratitude. Not about what to wear, what to eat, your commute, or what looms around the corner for you on that given day, just think of one measly thing that you feel grateful for in your life. That’s all. It could be as major as the partner sleeping beside you, or as minuscule as the hot shower you’re about to enjoy; big, small, weird, or wonderful, just pick ONE thing (the more specific the better!) and take that very first moment to feel completely and utterly thankful for it.
Now, once you have a couple of weeks of this under your belt (and no taking weekends off!), you’ll automatically start thinking of way more than one thing because well, you are just going to find that many more things to feel grateful for, I promise! Soon enough, you’ll find yourself making lists of all the wonderful things in your life and feeling deliriously happy with the world and everyone in it while standing in the grocery store checkout line. You’ll forgive those friendships that just didn’t make it for the long haul, you’ll care much less about things like rainy days and stalled subway trains, and best of all, you’ll begin to feel like everything you already have is far more than enough. You’ll be super annoying to any pessimistic friends or family members, but that won’t get you down, no sir!
These days, I turn the eight minute walk down my street every morning to catch the bus into my moments of gratitude. I don’t listen to music, I don’t think of anything but the great things I have in my life. I won’t lie, some days those eight minutes are harder to fill than others, but I always feel like a new person once I arrive at the bus stop (and it can do wonders for maintaining a blissful state when I’m crushed among the throngs of
barnyard animals fellow commuters).
This is most definitely not a new idea, but for me, it has been a revolutionary one, making more of an impact on my life than perhaps anything else – I’m totally for real on this! So I thought I would share the wealth and pass this little trick along to you. Hopefully this concrete solution will help you to take a huge concept like gratitude and chip away at it with this small, yet powerful daily routine. I dare you to try it for a few days/weeks/months/years and tell me you don’t feel the same.
Don’t believe me? Here’s what a bunch of smart people have to say about the psychology of gratitude
The how of happiness :)
Great post Ali! Loved reading every word.
Aw, thanks so much Quinn!
I love this Ali! A great post and a wonderful idea.
Thanks, Jeanie! So thankful for you :)
These are words to live by for sure. Thanks for refocusing us!
I could not agree more! I list everything I’m grateful for before going to bed each night and every morning when I wake up. It’s a lovely way to start and end my day :-)
Great idea to close the day that way too! Trying that!
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