By now, we know I’m an optimist, and one obvious benefit of optimism is happiness! But for all of us; optimists, pessimists, realists (my husband self-identities as a definite realist!) and anyone else, gratitude still stands as a clearly-defined, easily accessible key to happiness, or at least happy moments, every single day.
I know this’ll knock your socks off, but at Thanksgiving I’m the one volunteering the idea to go around the table and give thanks – and obviously I’m happy to go first, if nobody else jumps at the chance! Usually that exercise is met with “aww”s and laughter, and finished with some good feelings when everyone has given thanks.
So why limit gratitude to Thanksgiving?
Even when we say thank you, how often do we feel it? And mean it? I’m definitely guilty of throwing out the perfunctory “thank you!” in a higher than normal voice – I’m a girl, we all do it – when I receive a compliment, but I’m working on it. When I was a teenager, my Mom’s Mom (we call her Pompom!) complimented me, and I brushed it off. I think she said something like “you’re beautiful” and I said “no, I’m not.” Pompom didn’t accept that – she taught me a valuable lesson instead, which I’ve passed on to many other beautiful people! She taught me that when someone compliments you, just say “thank you.”
Saying “thank you” is easy. But feeling grateful for something we may not feel we deserve, whether it’s a compliment or an incredibly generous gift, is a little harder. I have experienced guilt, shame, questioning of my self-worth, and doubt when someone says “you’re beautiful” but again, I’m working on that. It’s important to recognize gifts and compliments for what they are: someone thought positively of you, and wanted you to know it. And hey, of course there’s the occasional insincere compliment or obligatory gift, but isn’t it easier to just assume the best and enjoy the moment?
Life can be tough. There’s ugliness in all forms, so take each positive moment and relish it. After all, when we’re 103 and look back on our lives, we’ll want to remember the funny, beautiful, moving moments. So let’s make more of them!
Here’s one way I try to make the most of my days: our daily attitude of gratitude. Since I’ve started my bullet journal, I keep a daily gratitude log. But my husband doesn’t do that, and I like to share gratitudes with him, so for the past handful of months we have taken time every day (when we remember/it works – no need to force something like this!) to bring up three things we’re each grateful for.
It’s so simple, but it creates a more positive outlook on life in the moment, and also over time teaches us to think more positively, which breeds happiness!
Our daily gratitudes range from the superficial to the emotionally deep, and patterns tend to form. Here are a few of our most recent gratitudes:
• Puppy snuggles
• This delicious dinner
• Springtime so we can grill and fix up the yard
• A job
• Early bedtimes
• Each other 🙂 my husband, to date, has listed Charlie-pup and me as one of the things he’s thankful for every day and it always makes me smile and feel wonderful
• A fluffy robe
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You get the picture – it can be anything! The point is to exercise gratitude every day. This can happen in your favorite form; writing, verbally, share it with a friend, do it alone, whatever floats your boat!
But gratitude is a winning attitude, because it drives happiness
I dare you – try it! Let me know how it goes, and I’ll even kick us off here: I’m SO grateful for
• Creativity and self-expression
• Vocal Jazz and Classic Standards Pandora (my favorite to write to)
• All of the wonderful years our family got to spend with a dog named Jefferson
• Anyone who reads my blog. Big big big gratitude, more than I can say.
Thank you for reading, I’m grateful for you!
A Happy Wife