Good morning! I hope you’ve had a great weekend so far. It’s been really hot here over the last several days; we’re talking over 100 degrees with the heat index, but as I’ve said many times, I’ll take the hot weather over wintery weather any day!
Today is the last day of my staycation. Because my employer was hit financially during the pandemic, the employees are required to take some time off without pay, so I chose to take this past week off. I relaxed, read, spent some time outside in the sun, went for a bike ride with David, worked out, and watched a lot of Will & Grace episodes (I recently started watching the show from the beginning.)
One of the books I read during my time off was The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan and I was immediately hooked by the author’s story. Janice Kaplan is a journalist who decided on New Year’s Day to spend a year practicing gratitude. She kept a gratitude diary and each night she would write at least 1-3 things that she was grateful for. However, it went a lot deeper than that. She dove into research studies about gratitude, she did interviews with scientists, friends, and even celebrities to find out how practicing gratitude can improve our level of happiness, our relationships, and even our health.
I absolutely loved this book and I was inspired to use this book as a tool to help me practice more gratitude. At the end of the book, the author offers guidelines to do your own 7-day gratitude challenge and I decided to take it on starting today. Here is the plan for the week, if you’d like to join in:
SUNDAY: Say thanks to someone you love. For me, this means thanking my husband. We’ve been together for 32 years and it’s easy to take someone for granted when you’ve been together that long. So I’ve been trying to make an effort to thank him when he does something around the house or to thank him when he’s being thoughtful, which is a lot. I’m a lucky woman!
MONDAY: Express gratitude at work. I’ll admit this one is tough. It’s hard to be grateful when you’re forced to take two weeks off without pay, but I’m extremely grateful that I still have a job. I’m really, really grateful that I have a job that allows me to work from home a lot. And instead of focusing on things that I don’t like about my job, I really need to start focusing more on the things that I do like about my job. I may not get thanked enough for what I do, and I may not always feel appreciated, but I can thank myself and I can appreciate the hard work I put in and give myself a pat on the back when I meet deadlines and complete tasks. I can also thank co-workers for their hard work so that they know they are appreciated.
TUESDAY: Enjoy the moment. How many times have we missed stuff because we were too busy worrying about the past or the future? What’s happening right now is where our focus should be. So many great moments, so many great things happening that we can savor and enjoy if we just stop, focus, and enjoy the moment. And even if something terrible is happening at the moment, it’s only for a moment, and then it will be over. Time goes by so quickly. Like the wise Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you’d don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
WEDNESDAY: Play the Flip-It game. I think this is the lesson that I took away the most from the book. When something terrible or annoying is happening, rather than tell yourself that this is the worst day ever, that your life sucks, etc., change your mindset to find something good in the situation. While this lesson might be the hardest one to do, I think that it can make the biggest impact on your life. Think of it as a game – the more difficult the situation, the more challenging to come up with a way to spin it into something positive, and to me, that’s like life saying, “I DARE YOU” and me responding with, “IT’S ON.”
THURSDAY: Be grateful to someone unexpected. Thank the cashier and the bagger at the grocery store. Leave a thank-you note for the postal worker who delivers the mail every day, rain or shine. Leave a bigger tip for your server or add a little extra cash to the restaurant who is providing carry-out to help keep us safe during COVID-19.
FRIDAY: Give of yourself. Remember that even if your paycheck might be a bit smaller than you’d like, or your car is on it’s last breath, giving of yourself, whether it be helping someone, volunteering, or donating can really make you appreciate what you have.
SATURDAY: Shout your gratitude out loud. Post something on social media about how grateful you are for something an individual or group did for you.
I took away so much from this book and am using the lessons I learned to practice gratitude throughout my day. At night before I go to sleep, I think back on my day and focus on three things that happened that day for which I’m grateful. I sleep so much better on the nights when I can focus on good things rather than worrying about things that went wrong, or things that I’m worried about.
I’ve also tried to remember to stop before I eat and be thankful for the meal I’m about to eat. I’m not religious, so it doesn’t have to be a prayer, although that’s okay, too, but I stop and inhale the smell, appreciate what I’m about to put in my belly, appreciate all of the hard work that went into the ingredients that I used for the meal – the farmers who grew the food, the people who harvested the food, the truck drivers who bring the food to the stores, the grocery store employees who make sure the food stays fresh – it’s a lot to be grateful for! And I’m grateful for the food that nourishes my body and keeps it healthy and I’m grateful to me for picking foods that are healthy and filled with nutrients.
Wow, that’s a lot of gratitude! How about you? What are you grateful for right now, at this moment? I’ll bet there is a lot; once you get going, it can be hard to stop WHICH IS AN AWESOME THING!
May your glass always be full,