We always seem to want more.
More of everything, and we want it now.
I’ve come to realize that “more” doesn’t always equal “happy.” There are so many things in your life, right now, that you can’t imagine living without; yet most days, you don’t give those things a second thought.
As I type this, my laptop battery is about to die. I’m wearing leggings, two pairs of thick socks, sweatpants, a long-sleeved shirt, a hoodie, and I’m covered with 2 blankets. There are so many things we say we take for granted. Today, I truly feel grateful- down to running water. It was the second day for us to go without power. Living in a beautiful area surrounded by mountains and trees has its downsides- like the fact that a major snowstorm in March, to us, means closed roads, no power or heat, and nothing to do, other than waiting for all the amazing people working around the clock to restore the power and to clear out the roads.
Mark and I were playing a word chain game. He was cuddled up on the couch with our dog Blu, while I somewhat nervously walked in circles, lighting up more candles- I just couldn’t sit still. Even though we were both tired and cold, we laughed and we joked.
I was walking around the dark house, thinking of the next word to come up with. 11.30 pm; it was freezing, it was dark, yet I couldn’t help but feel grateful. The “old” me would be annoyed, frustrated, angry. Yet there I was, bundled up in layers of clothing, feeling happy and content.
I owe it all to one small change: practicing gratitude on a daily basis.
PRACTICING GRATITUDE ON A DAILY BASIS
One of the very first things I do during my morning ritual is to give thanks. The minute my foot touches the floor as I walk to the bathroom I say: “thank you, thank you, thank you” with each step. I also love writing in my gratitude journal every morning. Great places to start are this book and this journal (which I talked about in this post). The more you fill your life with gratitude, the happier you will feel.
Compared to the rest of your daily routine, this seems like such a small habit, doesn’t it? Yet, it can make such a big difference in your life. It makes you see things from a different point of view. As you sit down, every morning, and write about things or people you feel grateful for, you remind yourself just how much light and love they bring into your life. You suddenly realize that in order for you to be happy, you really don’t need all that much- most of those little moments that make us happy, are completely free.
A “THANK YOU” JAR
This is a fun little habit you can easily and quickly introduce into your daily routine. Whenever something cool, fun or good happens to you during the day, write it down on a piece of paper and finish by writing: “thank you!” Fold it and throw it in your “Thank You” jar.
Whenever you feel down or feel the need to shift your energy, reach for the jar and read a few of your notes. You might remember that girl who complimented your hair when you were both standing in a checkout lane in the supermarket, you’ll remember that fun night you spent with your partner, cuddled up on the couch drinking cheap wine and watching that hilarious movie, or you can suddenly remember how a stranger helped you jump-start your car while you were getting gas that one day.
These all sound like such small, “everyday” things that at first don’t seem very special. It’s only when things change or when you go through tough times, that you realize how significant these little moments and interactions truly are.
Just in time for your upcoming spring cleaning season! Giving back is one of the best and most rewarding feelings there are. How many times do you open your closet, thinking “I have nothing to wear!” How many brand-new pieces, tags still attached, do you have hidden in your wardrobe? How much “stuff” do you keep buying or throwing away? By practicing more gratitude, I’ve learned that “stuff” and monetary things do not make you happy for very long.
I’ve read articles that claimed: “Generosity makes you happier!” or “Generosity will help you live longer!” I think that approach is a bit… I don’t know… twisted? Those articles just seem to get it all wrong.
Giving is not about you making yourself feel good- it’s about the other person. It’s about helping someone else; it’s about helping someone whose circumstances aren’t as favorable as yours. It doesn’t matter what kind of situation you find yourself in- there are other people who aren’t as lucky as you are. Even if you think you don’t have a lot to give, remember that sometimes, something as small as a friendly conversation can change someone’s day, maybe even a life.
What does all of that have to do with gratitude?
Well, I think that the more grateful you are, the more generous you become. The more generous you become, the more love you can spread. The more you practice gratitude on a daily basis, the happier you become. I’m not talking about just the monetary generosity, either. I’m talking about giving someone in need a hand, being understanding to someone who’s clearly having a tough time. Gratitude is all about putting things into perspective.
THE END-OF-THE-DAY THANKS
Whether it’s at a dinner table, right before taking a shower or before going to sleep- set nightly reminders for yourself, to give the end-of-the-day-thanks- it’s one of the easiest ways to practice gratitude on a daily basis. Think of one thing that happened to you that day, for which you feel grateful.
Setting those reminders for yourself is almost like forcing yourself into a positive mindset. It’s all about the power of habit. You might have had a really shitty day at work, maybe you got into a fight with someone close, or maybe, you just have one of those days when all you care about is climbing into your bed and falling asleep. Make this end-of-the-day-thanks a daily ritual, and no matter how shitty your day was, how lousy you feel, try to think of at least one “good” thing that happened to you that day.
At one point, the next evening, once the power comes back on and he gets out of the shower, Mark looks at me and says: “We are seriously so spoiled. A hot shower, a warm house- we do take it all for granted, don’t we?“
Yes, it is true that we take a lot for granted. That is why practicing gratitude on a daily basis, is so important. It allows you to see the things that matter. Things like the people around you; things that make you feel whole, things and people that make you feel happy.
There are so many “mini-tragedies” that happen to us on a daily basis. The barista gets your coffee order wrong, someone at work gives you a hard time and your day is ruined, your day doesn’t go as planned and you end up running late. We get upset over so many small, insignificant things- we let those small things bother us, we let them get to us. A daily gratitude practice can be life-changing.
It will help you realize that in the grand scheme of things, stuff we often get upset about… does not matter all that much.
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