Those who know me know I’m not a gusher. But this 21-day gratitude exercise I decided to test drive is certainly an eye-opener regarding the benefits of being a little more gushy than I have been. On the inside, especially. Old habits die harder on the outside!
The challenge was to note, every day, 3 world-view things to be grateful for. You can repeat them but you need to be specific as to why you’re grateful. Then one thing that happened in the past 24 hours that was wonderful. And one act of outwardly expressed gratitude to someone else.
I thought it’d be difficult to come up with that amount of good stuff day in and day out, but man, I am just amazed at how much great stuff happens all the time. Stuff that I used to just note for a nanosecond before getting back to the tasks and griping that normally constitute a day. People being unexpectedly nice and helpful; spotting a deer in the woods; enjoying a mad gallop on a horse; appreciating a client and their contribution to my financial serenity; blessed by the support from my loved ones; the zany joy of running into a grown man flying kites on the beach. Etcetera, etcetera. All that wonderfulness used to vanish, overpowered by things not done, or lingering worries, or other crapola that is also daily life.
The theoretical promise of the challenge is that you feel more positive and therefore happier when you spend some concerted effort hanging on to the good things. Which of course makes total sense but I never bothered to try. I’m not a pursuer of ‘happiness’ per se – it’s a slippery word and fraught with abuse – but who doesn’t want to feel less stressed and more pleased with how life is going?
And that is exactly how I’m feeling. I’m beset by change, uncertainty, multiple steep learning curves, and a whole lotta striving in my life at the moment, so this ability to take note of the things that are shining is a major godsend.
I’m definitely keeping this up after the 21 days is done. Way easier that sticking to exercise or a diet, it doesn’t even take that kind of willpower. I’ve started to notice way more things-to-be-grateful-for during the course of a day, and I make a mental note of them when I go to bed. That’s it. It makes me sleep really well.