The holidays are my favorite. From fantastic food to cozy gatherings with friends and family, merriment abounds.
There’s a kindness in the air and love for others we don’t always feel or demonstrate the rest of the year.
The holidays can be rough though too. There’s a sort of melancholy that comes and goes and we tend to miss those loved ones who aren’t with us even more.
There’s also knowing the year is coming to a close and we can’t help but think how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished … or haven’t.
This was the case for a friend I was chatting with the other night.
Instead of getting engaged to the man she’d been dating like she thought would happen when the year began, they broke up. Instead of seeing her newly launched web business explode, she’d been struggling to get it off the ground.
Life, she felt, wasn’t giving her much to feel good about and it was all she could talk about.
“What can I do?” She implored and I could relate to the frustration and desperation in her voice. Most of us have been there at some point.
“I think it’s time to start focusing on what you do have, instead of what you don’t.” I said.
It wasn’t the answer she wanted, but I knew the exercise I was about to share would no doubt change her life. And quickly!
After all, I’d experienced it myself a few years before.
I was living in L.A. when my life hit a low point, and continued to spiral downwards.
I didn’t “have” as much as I thought I’d “have” at that point and it weighed heavy on me daily.
For months I’d been struggling to get my first business off the ground.
Even though I wanted to be in a relationship I continually found myself with non-committal men.
My apartment flooded from the people above me and I was living on my friend’s couch with the personal belongings that did make it through the flood locked in my car.
Then my car broke down when I had every window in it all the way down.
And though even in our darkest moments we can always find something to be grateful for, at this point it was feeling tough.
For months it seemed the worse things got, the worse things got.
Something had to change. I had to change.
One morning I woke up so sick of hearing myself talk and so over the thoughts circling in my head. I was like a broken record, constantly complaining.
I decided right then I needed to stop focusing on the big things in my life that weren’t going so great, and start giving attention to the little daily things that were.
The perfect parking spot in front of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
The elderly gentlemen who held open the door for me at CVS.
The sweet text from an old friend that made me smile.
I bought a journal and dedicated it to 5 things to be grateful for each and every day. (And when I say journal I mean a notepad from the grocery store.)
Not going to lie, some days the list of 5 came flooding in, while other days I sat stumped on number 3 racking my brain to find anything else to be grateful for.
But within a matter of days of beginning this gratitude practice, major shifts occurred in my life. I started sleeping sounder. My mood improved. I felt calmer, lighter and rediscovered unexpected laughter.
Yes my business still struggled, yes I was still without a home, or a relationship, but I wasn’t as disappointed or bothered by what I didn’t have.
Life felt sweet again and in a matter of time the little daily things I was grateful for were joined by major milestones.
Many thought leaders say that giving our attention to what is going well in our lives is the secret to happiness.
Personally, I don’t know exactly what it does or why, but it’s been years now that I’ve been making a list of 5 things from my day to be grateful for (plus giving thanks for the everyday blessings like my family, good health, clean water to drink and food to eat) and I can tell the difference in my life when I fall out of practice.
Whether you’re over-the-moon in love with your life or not in your best place right now, make a list of 5 things to be grateful for each day.
Jot them down or even run through them in your head when you hit the pillow.
See how you feel. See what shifts in your life.
Giving thanks is like screaming to the universe, “Yes! Give me more of what I want please, thank you.”
Little or big, we can always find something to be grateful when we try.
“Giving thanks is like screaming to the universe, “Yes! Give me more of what I want please, thank you.’ ” Tweet This!
“Whether we’re in great places in our lives or not. There’s always something to be grateful for.” Tweet This!
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