Back in December 2016 I saw one of those viral videos about listing things you're grateful for each day. I decided I would do that for a year. I know friends and family that have done something similar- a 'gratitude jar' or 'daily gratitude list'...whatever you want to call it, it's a choice made to focus on the positive in our lives.
Since making the decision to keep this list, I've written something I'm grateful for every single day since January 1, 2017. So far, I have 143 entries (all of January, February, March, April, and up until May 23rd when I wrote this post). The very first entry says, "January 1: I'm grateful I didn't break my ankle when I fell down the stairs." Ha! My mom told me to write that. I was having a rough day on January 1st, not sure why now when I look back...but regardless I guess I just wasn't feeling 100% happy. I was talking to my mom about feeling this way and saying how it was hard for me to find something I was grateful for that day. The first day. Why was it so hard? I wanted it to be something good...that stood out. It's the first day of the year and the first day of my list...shouldn't it be something super cool that I'm grateful for? But it wasn't.
I had spent the day organizing one of the rooms in our house and moving heavy objects up and down the stairs. Towards the end of the day I had grown tired. I was wearing flowy, bell-bottom type exercise pants that are super comfy but too wide-legged to actually ever exercise in. Anyway, I was heading back down the stairs moving too fast and carrying too much when...I tripped on my pants! I fell down, tumbled a few steps and landed on my butt. Hard. I sat on the steps for a few seconds taking a deep breath and realizing how lucky I was that the fall wasn't any worse. I realized it was time to stop for the evening. I went to bed that night without starting my new resolution of writing something I was grateful for. I couldn't see at the time how fortunate I was that I didn't break something!
The next day was I was talking to my mom about this new list I was starting. She asked what I was grateful for the day before and I told her I couldn't think of anything. She pretty much reached through the phone and smacked me upside the head! She said, "Meredith! Be grateful you didn't break your ankle!" And that's exactly what I wrote on my list later that day. My mom's point was...it doesn't have to be some huge, life-changing, or significant moment. It can be anything- ANYTHING throughout the day that is a blessing.
Looking back on my list over the last 143 days has been very rewarding. There are times when I scroll through my list (in my notes app on my phone) and just smile. I like being able to see everything I'm grateful for in one place. All the blessings and small gifts I've happily recognized and received over the last 4 1/2 months. Everything from small gestures of love from my husband, to big announcements like we are having a baby! So many wonderful moments that I get to remember for the rest of my life. The most significant being the fact that I didn't actually break anything when I fell down the stairs. Why? Well, it turns out that I was actually just a few days pregnant on January 1st! I certainly did not need to be breaking anything or having a worse fall than I did that day. What a blessing when I look back!
I think I'll print this list at the end of the year and make some type of framed artwork out of it. Maybe I'll continue to keep this list for the rest of my life! The list really only means something to me. It's my perspective of my life. And what a gift to have my perspective all be things I'm so grateful for! Is my life perfect? No. I'm unemployed, (was essentially laid off at 4 months pregnant). I haven't found a job since. Thankfully my husband is able to support me during this time but that doesn't mean life is perfect. I've had down days, days where I miss my family, days where I wish my career was going places, days where I feel lonely, and days when I'm actually alone all day. For a social person these days are difficult for me. Being a military spouse you learn to self-entertain or not be entertained at all! But regardless, my life has stuff in it that I won't talk about here just like everyone else's life has stuff in it that they don't publicly mention.
If I chose to look at my life only through the lens of what makes my life hard, then ya, I'd be a debbie-downer constantly. You know the phrase..."power of positive thinking..." it's so true! You choose the life you have. If you're not happy with your life, maybe it's time to shift your perspective. Do you want your life to feel different? Look different? Start by being grateful for what you already have. The little things. When you look back and add up all the little things you were grateful for, you start to see them working together in the big picture of your life.
Maybe it's time you start on your own list. You can start today and work on it every day for a year. It's your own personal goal that I promise will help you shift your way of thinking! It also helps you see the big picture of your year. I've seen how things in my life have changed drastically since I first started this list. Things in my life I prayed for a few months back have either been answered or my prayers have changed. I see God working in my life through this list. I've seen my pregnancy progress- from the first day we found out, to weeks of nausea and food aversions, to finding out the gender (it's a girl!)- and it's all recorded as things I'm grateful for. Who knew at the beginning of the year what the last few months would hold? What a precious gift I have given myself! Give yourself that same gift today. Be grateful for all you do have in your life and I bet you'll look back on the year with so much gratitude and hope for your future.
Today, May 23rd, I'll write this..."I'm grateful to be able to share how this list has been impacting my life for the better."
PS- I easily forget to do daily tasks so I set a reminder on my phone to go off every night at 8:40 pm reminding me to write my grateful memory for the day. Hey- you gotta do what you gotta do!
"It's not happiness that brings us gratitude but gratitude that brings us happiness." -Unknown