Gratitude

Note: I’m posting all entries related to this project at The Grateful Life. Once a week, I’ll post here with a summary and links of recent entries, but most of the content will be over on the other blog. Keep checking here for the recipes, news, poetry, and musings you’re used to from me 🙂

I normally spurn the rash of promises, commitments, and resolutions floating around near the end of a calendar year, but this year I’m doing something different. I’m making a promise to myself – a resolution for the new year. 2012 will be a year of gratitude.

I’ve been inspired in recent months by two things. First, the book “356 Thank Yous” by John Kralik. Kralik documents his year of trying to write a thank-you note every day for one year. He doesn’t quite make his specific goal, but the change he goes through as a person is inspiring. Second, a relationship advice book that I found sitting in a window seat at a coffee shop. I flipped through it while drinking my machiato, and the very first exercise was  called “The Appreciation Station.” Nevermind the cheesey title – the exercise was great. The instructions were simple: tack two pieces of paper up in your home. On them, you each write something you’re grateful for or appreciate about your mate, every day for a week.

Both of these essentially revolve around the same concept: that in deliberately seeking out something – one thing – each day to be thankful for, you can manifest a more positive and grateful existence. Be it with your mate, or on your own, the very act of moving through your day with an eye toward those things you are grateful for necessarily shifts your outlook. In other words, it is forced positivity.

Negative thinking is easy to lapse into, and it’s hard to recognize without taking a step back. It is a simple choice, to look at something positively or negatively. For example – this morning I was peeved that I had to wake up before Mattie did, gulp down cold coffee, and go to work. Instead, I could have been glad that he was sleeping so well, grateful for any coffee at all, and thankful for the fact that I HAVE a job when so many are desperate for work.

I realize that I am a blessed person, but it is a distant and academic knowing. I don’t feel it. I focus on flaws, faults, shortcomings, lackings, and difficulties so much that I miss the real luck and blessings that I am surrounded with.

The final inspiration is something that I did as a gift for Michael. In searching for a cheap, personal, romantic gift for him I came across someone who had used a deck of cards to create a “52 Things I Love About You” project. It was simple and pretty, and full of meaning. So, planning to do that, I set about making a list. Once I started, though, I couldn’t stop. I wrote down 130 things that I love about Michael! I wrote them on gift tags and hung them from our Christmas tree for him to find.

In the process of coming up with the list, I remembered things about Michael and our relationship that I had forgotten, or that had gotten lost in the shuffle of everyday life with a baby. I thought of things that in the mist of the daily grind I tend to think of as annoying, but are really very endearing and cute qualities. I remembered how in love with him I really was (am), and I lost track of all of the little disagreements that can happen when you have an infant. Not to mention how loved and special it made him feel.

The positive effect of my little project was the final element that led me to want to undertake this new project. Every day, for one year, I will find something to be grateful for and write about it. I’m going to try and put them all on this blog (mostly because the public accountability will help me stick to it), but when we’re traveling or extremely busy I may jot them down in my journal and repost when I get a chance.

I invite you to join me! It doesn’t have to be public (but it might be great to get a bunch of us doing this), but this year, try to find something you’re grateful for every day. If you have more than one thing in a day, the more the merrier! Send me a blog address if you’re putting something online, or comment on my daily posts with your gratitude for the day.

Much love,

Lauren

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