I started writing a ‘gratitude list’ a few weeks ago as part of my drive to increase my overall sanity levels/reduce bitching etc. You’ve probably read about this idea here and there. Have you tried it? Seemingly anything to do with mindfulness, building personal resilience and so on tend to suggest that making a conscious effort to be grateful and notice the good shiz is one of the keys to feeling more ok about life. I found it so hard getting started. I think perhaps I was trying to think too much about the bigger stuff like, “my amazing kids”, “my nice house, that err, the bank mostly owns…” etc, and I seemed to run out of things to be grateful for so quickly! Dammit, I thought, maybe I am meant to be a miserable wench, there just aren’t enough things in my life that bring me happiness!
Talk about miss the point.
I’m pretty much in the swing of it now, adding one or two new items to the list each day. It can take a while to identify new things that I can genuinely say I feel grateful for, but slowly, surely I’m growing a list of really alright stuff to reflect on and be thankful for and a lot of it is now the teeny-tiny but no less meaningful stuff. And I think that is far closer to the point.
Macro to micro-happiness
I won’t share my entire gratitude list with you but it’s moved away from ‘macro-happiness’ to the micro. I also like to include the fleeting things, I suppose as a way to hold onto them for a while longer, really make them my own. It includes stuff like:
“My kid let me have a great big cuddle with them today. They didn’t moan or wriggle free or say they’re too grown up for this. I could feel her heartbeat and smell her hair.”
“Saw a dog with it’s head poking out of a moving car. Long ears and flappy jaws flying about in the wind, hilarious!”
“I stubbed my toe on the corner of the bed and it bloody hurt. On top of the pain, I was so pissed off at myself for being a prat. But then a couple of minutes later, I was having a massive, silly laugh with X about something ridiculous and had totally forgotten hurting myself. I’m so grateful that the pain was only temporary.”
This got me thinking about the really daft things that have the power to light up my day. The things that might not do it for everyone, but which spark a sense of joy in me, however odd or seemingly insignificant. Right near the top of that list is dogs with their heads out of moving cars. Some other things that can make me smile even when I’m in a crappy mood are:
- the particular smell of Play-Doh
- getting my toenail polish on absolutely perfectly
- that squealy sound happy guinea pigs make
- the crispy-crunch of a fresh tiger loaf
- walking into a room that’s still tidy
- green beans cooked just right so they squeak
What weird stuff makes you happy?
Thank goodness for blogging
I also just realised I’m so grateful for a lot of things related to this blog. It doesn’t even have anything to do with my readership (erm, I don’t have one), or my appreciative followers (nope, none of those…well I think there may actually be one – thank you!). It’s actually about the process, the freedom and the outlet for my mind-ramblings. I’m thankful that I have access to the internet, for being able to learn how to use WordPress, for having freedom of speech, for having ideas, for focusing my mind on positive things…. You can only imagine how over-excited I’ll be if people really do start reading this!
If you’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed, low or wondering what the bleeding point is, then it’s time for you to write your own gratitude list. Start big by all means – you really ought to be thankful for the roof over your head, your family, your freedoms. But the real fun is in the finer detail. Once you start noticing the tiny, the silly, the unexpectedly special, that’s when you get a real warm glow. And when you’re having a complete git of a day, you can reflect on your list and maybe have a little giggle or smile about that lovely cuddle you had that time, or the twinkle in his eye, or that amazing design the barista ‘drew’ on top of your coffee (yeah, I know, voodoo right!). This will help you keep a sense of perspective in your life and take your thoughts away from your horrible boss and the credit card repayments.
So that’s my version of how to do gratefulness. Have a try, it doesn’t take a lot of effort and I promise it is lovely.