For the past couple weeks, I have been building the habit of a daily gratitude practice. I had been hearing about gratitude as a healthy habit for some time and, because I'm always trying to better my life and my inward and outward health, I decided to give it a try. Every night, I write down five things I am grateful for, sometimes things I noticed throughout the day or sometimes things that have just been on my mind.
I always write out the full sentence, "I am grateful for..." and vary what I write about. Maybe one day I have a really nice conversation with my mom so I write, "I am grateful for my mom and the connection we have." Or I just notice how beautiful it is outside as I am walking to class so I write, "I am grateful for the sun and the world's natural beauty." It all depends on what I am experiencing, but I try to be as specific as possible.
I have only been doing it for a short amount of time but I have already noticed differences in the way I approach daily living. For example, the other day it was raining and everything felt like a struggle to me. But I immediately stopped, before getting upset about it, and said to myself, "This is okay. Everything works out in the end and I am okay." And I proceeded to write down the things I am grateful for, even in the face of a stressful day.
We tend to get so caught up in the negatives of life. Academic stress that feels all-consuming, not getting the anticipated response from a friend or partner, getting stuck behind slow walkers when you have somewhere to be... It can make us feel like our lives are terrible and everything sucks. What gratitude does is it puts everything into perspective and gets us to step back and view the bigger picture of our lives and the world.
Yes, bad things will always happen, but a bad day doesn't equal a bad life. Because of taking the time to express gratitude for all the good things I have and all the beautiful things I experience, I pull the focus away from the negative and am able to get through a bad day without sinking into a pit of despair. I can get through what normally would feel like the end of the world and still appreciate the little wonders of life. I can move on.
I encourage everyone, especially those pessimists out there and the people who are going through a tough time, to just take a step back and think about all you have. There are people in this world that experience exorbitant amounts of pain and suffering, but chances are, if you're reading this article, you have something to be grateful for. Even if it's just internet access and the time to read.
Try writing down a couple things you are grateful for, even in times of struggle, and I promise, you will feel a little better. Keep practicing gratitude and you will find your outlook on life can shift to a more positive life.
Lastly, I am grateful for you reading this article and taking the time to hear what I have to say.