In high school, I was assigned to write three things I was grateful for a whole semester. We each got a brand new composition notebook and were told it would be checked monthly. At first, I was annoyed about having another (what I thought at the time) pointless assignment. However, like any assignment, I did it because it was for a grade.
Every day I scribbled down something I was thankful for in my life. In the beginning, it was easy. I would hastily write family member names, friends, internet...but after a week, I realized I would have to spend more than a minute writing in my journal. Repetition was not allowed, so as the semester went by, my list of three eventually became very specific. I would write that I thankful for the teacher not collecting the homework I forgot to do or receiving a new pair of shoes. It became to the point where whenever something good happened during the day I would think, "I can add this to my gratitude journal today!"
Suddenly, everything I was doing became a moment of gratitude. My friend sharing Cheez-its with me, despite her doing so for the whole of high school was a reason to be thankful. I was grateful that my shoes not getting soaked in the rain even though the rain made me late.
My mindset changed positively after a semester of recording reasons to be grateful. I say thank you much more than I did prior to keeping the journal. I realized I am grateful for every little thing in my life. However, combining everything as one clump of things to be thankful for makes you lose sight of the everyday occurrences that make you feel happy in that moment of that particular day. The worst day can make it seem like nothing is going right. Yet a simple act such as eating dinner with a friend can reverse the terrible day just because you are able to see them.
Searching for the list of three is not to undermine struggles or bad days. Instead, it helps you power through the miserable ones and amplifies the best ones. Sometimes the fact that your socks are dry can be the reason you feel like you have not had the worst day in the world.
It has been two years after this assignment and I still do this exercise. It has become more of an unconscious habit now. Anytime I experience anything that makes me happy, I add it to my growing list of gratitude. Often times, it is more than a list of three.
It sounds cliche, but some blessings are disguised very well.
As it is the beginning of a new year, perhaps one resolution (if you don't have one or if you do add it to the list), can be writing down at least three things you are grateful for daily. Without a doubt, I can say that practicing gratitude has made me a happier person overall.