Monday, November 25, 2013

My New Gratitude Practice

Thankful for time to play at the park with Noah & Brian.
As its moniker suggests, Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks.  

But it's become quite popular to share what you are grateful for, not only on Thanksgiving day, but all month long.

Some people share what they are thankful for on Facebook.

Others jot down gratitude lists in a journal or on a blog.

Still others send cards to friends and family expressing their gratitude.

Personally, I think expressing gratitude--no matter what form it takes--is awesome.

This fall, I started a new gratitude practice, after viewing Shawn Achor's TED talk (it's hilarious!) and reading his book, "The Happiness Advantage."

I started by creating a note in my iPhone simply titled, "Gratitude."

Every day, since September 20, I've pulled up this note and typed in three things I'm grateful for.

But here's the kicker: The three things must have happened in the past 24 hours!

I've made a habit of doing my gratitude writing first thing in the morning--before checking my email, before opening up Instagram--even before getting out of bed.  (Sure, there are days when it just doesn't happen in the morning--especially when the baby wakes up before I do.  It's then that I find time later on in the day.)  

Just five days into my new practice of gratitude journaling, I found myself scanning the world for positive experiences and things around me.  I was looking for the good, instead of focusing on the bad.

And even now, seven weeks later, when something funny or precious or inspiring happens, I think, "That's going on my gratitude list," or "I can't wait to document that in my gratitude note tomorrow."

Earlier today, I pulled out my iPhone and read back through my gratitude list.  Here are a few excerpts:

I'm grateful ...

For my parents who saved my first Cabbage Patch doll (Beverly Minnie) and the Fisher-Price ferry boat we played with as kids.

For twenty minutes of uninterrupted time to talk with Brian while he worked an overtime shift at the fire station.  (Such a rare treat!)

For the joy and enthusiasm that Noah exhibited while singing "Wheels on the Bus" at the library.  

For text messages and photos from my sister Kate.

For this video of Bean singing "Dance With Somebody," which prompted me to spontaneously belt out said song in my family room.  I loved singing that song with my sister Nichole when we were kids.    
For the two fawns who appeared outside my office window and treated me to an up close viewing.  I have a soft spot for baby anything.  

For swinging time with Noah in the hammock, just eating peanut butter cracks and listening to the birds chirp.

For the chance to hug Ali Edwards at breakfast this morning (at the Click retreat).  She's such an inspiring scrapbooker, photographer, and writer.

For the tent in our living room, which makes Noah so happy.

For the courage to say "I'm sorry" to Brian (twice).

For dinner and good conversation with my friend, Nicole.

For a new suitcase from Costco.  (The zipper on my fully-packed suitcase broke the night before we were to leave for Texas.  So, we stopped at Costco on the way to the airport, bought a suitcase and then moved everything from the old suitcase to the new suitcase--right there in the parking lot.)

For Brian, who is a great dad to Noah.  He kept Noah busy on the plane ride to Dallas, entertaining him with photos and apps on his iPad.

For time spent in the hallway of a Dallas hotel, chatting with family--Donna, Catherine, Susan, and my mom.

For hugs from McKayla.

For flying in business class (thanks to our AA miles!) with lots of room to stretch our legs and let Noah play.

For Noah's expanding vocabulary.  His newest word is cool, which he says in the cutest sing-songy way.

I'm planning to continue this gratitude practice through Thanksgiving and possibly into the New Year, because I find it helps me recognize the positive experiences in my life--and in doing so, cultivate more happiness and more gratitude.  

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Tina Kim said...

What I great idea! We certainly can easily focus on the negative this is good motivation to focus on the positive things in life! Thanks!

Amy said...

Great idea! I love that it's changed what you're looking for in your day. I could use this, always

Jennie said...

Thanks for your comments, Tina and Amy!

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