I thought we’d try something a little bit different today as part of the 9 Fun Ways to Create a Happy Home series. Today is all about looking for the good things we have in our lives at this moment and taking a minute or two to recognise and be grateful for what they are. This time of year is super stressful for a lot of us, and it can be really helpful to step back for a moment and just recognise what we do have. The best thing about this is that it boosts your happiness. Weirdly, thinking about the things that we’re grateful for makes us feel happier. If you’re worried it’s too hippy, just forget the eyerolling for a minute and give it a go. ;)
What you’ll need:
- Your favourite pen
- A notepad or notebook to write in (or the printable I have for you below)
- A Timer set to 5 minutes
- An Open Mind
Set aside 5 minutes of your time before dinner or before bed to think of 10 things that you’re grateful for today. If 10 seems too difficult at the end of the day try for just three. They don’t have to be life changing things, just something (or someone that you’re grateful for). It’s all about looking for those silver linings.
Set your timer to 5 minutes and let your mind wander. What was something good that happened today? Who are you glad that you saw? What tiny thing made you smile. Allow yourself to be lost in that moment and just focus on the good things. This is a technique suggested in The Happiness Advantage from Shawn Achor, but is also something that I’ve done on and off for a few years now.
If you feel like you can’t find something from today, because today was a shocker, think further out. Who are you thankful that you have around when you need them? What blogs are you glad exist? What food are you so glad someone invented? Why are you glad that the internet exists? It doesn’t have to be super serious, “I’m only grateful for the super important things”. Being grateful for the small things is important too.
I shall lead by example. Here are 10 things I’m grateful for (in no particular order):
- I am thankful for the internet helping me to find some of my best friends in the world
- I’m thankful for a sea breeze on a hot day
- I’m thankful for aeroplanes and how easy they make it to get to far away places
- I’m thankful for the people who believe in me including my friends and family (and even the people I don’t know who just enjoy what I do)
- I’m thankful for my sense of humor and that it can make me laugh even on the crappiest of days
- I’m thankful for popcorn makers
- I’m thankful to Mark Schwahn for One Tree Hill and to Rob Thomas for Veronica Mars
- I’m thankful to Brand New, Motion City Soundtrack, Faithless, Bloc Party and Jimmy Eat World for writing my favourite songs
- I’m thankful for my love of writing, even if I sometimes babble on
- I’m thankful for this blog and the opportunities that it continues to bring me (and for how fun it is to work on)
Sometimes all it takes is a moment to stop and look for those silver linings to give us a quiet smile that no one else needs to understand. Sometimes we need to sleep on in and write them in the morning. I have found it really helpful to take a moment (or 5) out of my day to turn off the news, and remember what is good in this world and how our small actions can have a positive impact on both ourselves and others.
It’s not about brow-beating ourselves for not being “better”, but focusing instead on what is good and the things we are blessed with. A smile just before bed might even make for a better nights sleep and a good start to tomorrow. If you’re more of a morning person, leave a notepad and a pen beside the bed and write what you’re grateful for before you begin your day.
After you’ve tried it yourself, have your family join in. They could all write their own separate lists or you could all write one together. Make it fun and lighthearted and have a laugh and a smile about the things that you’re grateful to share together.
Here’s my free printable for you, if you’d like to download it.
Have you done anything like this before? Is gratitude something that you’ve made your focus before? I’d love to hear, tell me in the comments!