For over twenty weeks I have been experimenting with gratitude by writing daily lists of the things I am grateful for and gathering reflection in weekly blog posts.
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This quest of practicing daily gratitude began as a suggestion to unravel the possibility of change with the attitude of gratitude. Could this simple endeavor genuinely be a key to happiness?
No stranger to gratitude, I had always practiced during the month of December, with gentle reminders of kindness to strangers in memory of the loss of our son. From experience, I knew that providing hope to others filled a crimson hole that always appeared near his birthday, which stirred the notion to these daily reminders of joy.
The idea occurred on the cusp of my 52nd birthday, culminating with the loss of my father years early at the age of fifty-two. As my own birthday neared I recalled how my father’s fifty-second year was his last year of life and decided this was an opportunity to uncover the moments of gratitude instead of the spiral of angst delivered from this loss.
Representing an authentic vehicle towards the collection of gratefulness that satisfied a missing component in my life while connecting my age and the fifty-two weeks in the year creating the perfect place to begin an examination in praise.
But is gratitude something that can change our lives? And does the practice of gratitude truly fill us with joy? I was ready to engage in that challenge and began daily penning three to five grace-filled moments as well as one positive characteristic of myself into embellished journals.
Establishing the block of time to begin at first felt a bit clunky as I acknowledged the moments that filled my days as if that morning cup of coffee was not always going to make the list.
But over time it became a habit that created pause in my mornings as I noticed a brilliant sunrise coming to life and explored this shift in gratitude. Springing from the tiny details of my day I began to take note of the simple pleasures I enjoyed, from my morning coffee to the smile from a stranger, these small examples served as the first reminders in my grace-filled days.
Pausing to consider each ripple of gratitude that had gone unnoticed created a clear sense of obligation as if finally opening my eyes to the wonder of these everyday moments was no longer enough, now blooming into a vital piece of curiosity towards what I had overlooked.
After months of recording the joy filled spaces, I noticed how grace appeared in everything, from the smallest act to the greatest of miracles, each detail another brush with gratitude layering my heart with another message of happiness while purging away sadness.
Gratitude was no longer a chore to be completed, but a treat to bring enlightenment, sorting the distractions of things with the gifts of life, an untarnished view towards happiness.
Over the weeks I noticed how acknowledging gratitude mellowed a bad day too, provoking the reflection of positives in the day by rekindling moments of softness, and with practice, growing that muscle stronger.
Even now, weeks later when gratitude is not at the top of my agenda I skim through the pages of the filled journals and pause, disconnecting from the current moment of distress to a space of stillness and I am ready to write again.
With paper and pen and the willingness to begin gratitude is truly at your fingertips. Any notebook can transform your attitude into a place of grace that guides you towards contentment.
This small experiment has grown into a daily exercise, a refreshing habit, delivering a sense of joy I had not anticipated, reminding me of the wonderful treasures that fill our days while training me to slow down and enjoy the beauty of a life well lived.