I started getting interested in the power of gratitude a year or two ago. I kept hearing podcasts about the dramatic positive impact a daily practice of gratitude can have on your health, and was immediately intrigued. I found studies to show that gratitude reduces stress, addiction, and depression, and improves sleep quality and physical health. The Clinical Psychology Review even showed that interventions involving gratitude helped improve body image by 76%! This TIME article sums up several of the benefits nicely.
Aside from the incredible health benefits, going about your day-to-day life with an attitude of gratitude makes everything seem easier and more harmonious. You’ve been there, right? Sometimes you’ll have a day where you wake up with a smile, and things just seem to go “your way.” Even when something doesn’t go quite your way, you take it in stride, because it just feels like an amazing day! And then, there are those days when you grudgingly roll out of bed with a bad attitude, and it seems like nothing in your life is right. Your lack of gratitude casts a dark gray cloud over every. single. aspect. of your life. It’s pretty amazing what a difference your attitude of gratitude can make!
WOW! If I stop and think about it, I have so, so many things to be grateful for. Even on the worst days, I can identify many things that I feel so lucky to have … from the smallest (my morning cup of coffee!) to the largest (my amazing husband). But that was the problem … to get the benefits actually had to stop and think about it, daily. (picture source)
At first, I tried to create a habit … as soon as I woke up, I would think about 3 things for which I was grateful. That was fun … but it only lasted a day or two. Then, I put a Word document on the desktop of my computer, thinking I would have to open it every day when I saw it … I got 3-4 days out of this one. I set a daily calendar alarm to pop up on my computer … but you know how easy it is to “Dismiss” without a second thought.
Finally, one thing worked for me. I bought a book. And I’m happy to say that I’ve effortlessly practiced gratitude every single day for the past 40 days (since January 1st). And I LOVE it! It sets my day up wonderfully, and lets me realize how truly fortunate I am to be living this amazing life. (picture source)
The book I bought is nothing special, but it really helps me to have something physical to write in. It has a few quotes here and there, but it’s pretty much just blank pages with lines for every day. I could technically whip up another Word document in 30 seconds flat and print it off of my computer for the same effect. But for me, something about having an actual book sitting on my desk staring at me, and the desire to fill it all up and get that warm fuzzy feeling first thing in the morning … it just worked. (Note: this post was written in 2014, and was the beginning of a cascade of morning habits! To learn about my 2018 morning routine, please see this post, and to get my signature PEPPER Planner, visit this page).
I write 2-3 things for which I’m grateful every day, before I even open my computer. It’s AMAZING how much my attitude toward the day brightens by doing this one simple thing! (Note: this post was written in 2014, and was the beginning of a cascade of morning habits! To learn about my 2018 morning routine, please see this post, and to get my signature PEPPER Planner, visit this page).
So please, in whatever form works for you … take just one minute today and practice an attitude of gratitude for your own life. And let me know how you like it! (picture source)
So tell me in the comments … Are you good at regularly practicing gratitude? What helps you feel most grateful for the things in your life?
I predict that Brazil will give you a whole new outlook on gratitude. While I loved the country as a whole, and even Rio, there were a couple very negative and memorable experiences for me in Rio: seeing the favelas (and then really recognizing how many people are living in that way and understanding exactly how they were living), and worse yet, when we were walking through a neighborhood about 15 feet apart, seeing a young boy, about 8, kind of shake himself at the guy I was with — clearly selling himself. It still makes my eyes tear up when I remember it. I sometimes wish we’d been able to grab him and bring him back to the US and help him have a better life. Simply being born into middle-class America is something to be more grateful for than most people who don’t travel abroad much can imagine, and I’d venture to say that even lower-class America is better than many others.
Anyway, enjoy Brazil — get off the computer and soak it all up, the good and the sad. Be grateful you’re there, you’re missing some miserably cold days in Dallas, but they say relief is in sight.
Carina – I’m on an 8-hour layover in the Rio airport and it’s my first time to really reflect on the experience. You’re absolutely right, it did make me so grateful for all the daily comforts that I have. Our hotel was very close to the Vidigal favela and it was so disheartening to see people living that way. Our second stop was Trancoso which is a much smaller and less built-up area than Rio … even though the wedding itself was super nice, experiencing the regular day-to-day life of most Brazilians was an experience to be remembered. I agree with you that lower-class America is “better” in a lot of ways than lower-class in many other countries – it’s certainly a struggle to have to wonder if you’ll have food on the table no matter where you are, but as Americans we have a lot of comforts, freedoms, and protections that I imagine others in many other countries go without.
I hear it’s warm again in Dallas … perfect timing :).
My friends and I each have a gratitude vase that we have to fill one with thought every day. It’s amazing the difference it makes!
Have an excellent time in Brazil!
I love that idea, Chrissy! Do you ever go back and re-read them? So fun!
I think like you I tend to get out of the habit from time to time. It’s especially hard if you are in a bit of a funk…which I feel like I am being injured right now, but that’s when it’s especially important. Thanks for the reminder!
I’m sorry you’re in a funk, Tonya :(. Hope you get out of it, hang in there! Thinking about you!
This is such a great idea and concept, Megan! Even though it may seem a waste of money, I think having it WRITTEN as opposed to simply in a document makes it that much more special. I often need to stand back and question my views and be more gracious!
Arman, that’s exactly what I have found. And if it’s $10 of “wasted” money that changes around my attitude, I’m all for it! Hope you get a chance to step back today and be grateful – even if work is a pain!
Hope you are having a blast in Brazil little lady! I love this post and I have so much to be grateful for!
Thanks, Jillienne! And thanks for your guest post today! I love it!
I hope you guys are having a blast … and my phone battery fears for when you return and start replying to comments like a crazy person! 🙂
I try to be grateful every week for all of the things that I have, and every day I am thankful that I have a wonderful and loving wife, two beautiful and healthy boys, and a body that powers me through each day.
I have made my gratitude part of my daily running routine – it was something suggested by the pacer when I ran my first marathon. She suggested that we think about those who couldn’t run, be thankful that we could. And she also suggested that on every run we give thanks for all of the good things we have in our lives.
Gratitude while you’re running is a great idea! Sometimes I’ll have a goal to think about something and then I’ll just get distracted and my mind wanders away a little bit, but maybe if I started each run that way it would work.
I’m trying to sneak in some replies here and there, just to save your phone battery ;). Question for you, though. I know (at least I think I know) that you get an email when I respond to your specific comment (right?). But do you also follow the comments on my posts, and do you get an email for every single response I write (even if it’s not to you?). If so, is this annoying? I’m obviously still trying to figure this out, and for me personally I like when I get an email when the person responds to me, but not an email for every response they give (since some bloggers get hundreds of comments!). Thanks for the feedback, as always!
I specifically check the ‘notify me of new comments’, so my pain is largely self-induced. I do this because one of the great things about this community is all of the comments – I love reading everyone’s posts, and like to comment, but I always learn new things and find new blogs through comments. So I get a lot of value from the comments. I mean, I found your site by tracking comments on other sites, which I found from still other sites … so while I tease you about blowing up my phone, it is just that. 🙂
This morning (-15) there wasn’t much brain bandwidth for gratitude other than that I have good clothes that protect me … the rest of my mind was on continuous self-assessment mode …
Got it, thanks for letting me know. I do this too sometimes but not on every post. Warning: replies coming now (8 hour layover in Rio!), but the good news (for your phone battery) is that there aren’t too many!
haha – I’m sitting her at the table with both kids each working on our laptops and my phone is buzzing away – thought you were back from vacation. Regardless, I hope you had an amazing time and can’t wait to read about it. Great guest posts, BTW.
It was amazing – a gorgeous wedding, an amazing experience, and a great time with Kevin! Now that it’s over I’m ready to be home, but I’d go back in a heartbeat!! Thanks for the comments on the guest posts – I agree that Jillienne and Caroline did an amazing job!
Love this post Megan! I need to do something like this – what a great idea! Oh, and have a blast in Brazil!!! I am so jealous and can’t wait to hear all about it!
I hope you end up trying it, Sara … it really helps me shift my perspective and be more positive! We’re having a blast so far, thanks!
As a bookseller, I am extremely gratified that you found an actual, physical book to be the most useful tool! 🙂
Thanks for the comment, Janka! Yes, sometimes there is just no substitute for the “real thing”!
I love this, Megan. I think practicing gratitude is so important, and you are right, if you take the time to think of all the things you are grateful for, it almost always improves your day (and your mood). It’s easy to get bogged down in the small things, and sometimes really big things happen that shake us, but realizing that we have so much to be thankful for is so important. I try to live this way, as well, but I love the idea of practicing intentional gratitude daily. I hope you are on a sandy beach in Brazil right now!
Thanks, Amy! It has really helped me a lot. It’s amazing how small things like that can add up! Yes – enjoying Brazil. We’re headed out to go hang gliding now!