Folded Towels. (Photo credit: Greg Timm)
It’s Gratituesday! Today I am thankful for surprises.
Some surprises are as simple as finding the dishwasher already emptied and ready for the next load, or a pile of laundry folded by someone other than myself. Receiving a real, handwritten letter or card in the mail brings pleasure that lasts. Volunteer flowers in my garden charm me; an unexpected hummingbird hovering a couple of feet away can change the tone of a day. A repair costing much less than quoted or finding an item I need on sale, nice! Hearing a honk and getting a wave as a friend drives by gets my giggle on. Something like finding some crinkly money in a jacket pocket from last year is rare, but so fun. And, what a smile I get when I find just the right amount of change in the car to splurge on a soda.Silly, huh? Not really. It’s those tiny thrills and small enchantments that add spice, flavor and joy to my life.
“Let’s try an Experiment,” I said to myself
A bunch of years ago, I started an experiment. I started writing down a few things, every night before turning out the light, that made me smile, that blessed my life or that brought some happiness to the day.
Some days, many days at first, required some deep thinking to get even three items on the list. Other days I couldn’t stop writing at just five or seven happy things.
What a difference it made for me. I started looking during the day for those few things I could list in my notebook that evening. I made a mental note of the rabbits in the field next to the stoplight. I paid attention when my daughter hugged me extra tight. I remembered when my son took the garbage out without being asked.
Here’s a sample list:
- Clean Sheets.
- The sound of the wind.
- Hearing my children’s laughter.
- A kiss.
- Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
- A cold glass of milk.
- Time for reading.
Sure, some days I felt deflated and defeated. On those days, defaulting to the basics was the best I could come up with; my health, my family, a place to live, adequate food. Life hasn’t been all roses, not at all, just the opposite, in fact. There’s some rough terrain out there if I look back at the path I’ve taken.
Most days, though, I made an effort to be grateful, to be aware, to let the little happinesses get through to me. I slowed down just enough to be in the moment and take joy in it. Then I’d make my list that night, short or long, without fail.
For me, writing down those happy things made an impact. Writing made those blessings last, in my head, and on paper, tweaking something in me and shifting my thinking. Being grateful changed me for the better. What a nice surprise.
Am I ever thankful for that!
For ideas about starting your own Happy Book or Gratitude Journal click here.
Harvard Medical School published an article about the health benefits of gratitude. Click here to read it.
A great recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie nirvana is waiting for you to click this. (You’re on your own with the cold glass of milk. I prefer 1%, though an occasional, rare, splurge on whole milk is divine.)