Gratitude is a shortcut to happiness, no doubt. Many have written about it, and I hope that adding my thoughts to the concept will spread the word. Focusing on feeling grateful for what is rather than lamenting what is not stimulates the brain to release feel-good chemicals that reinforce happiness. When we fill our brains with good thoughts, it simply leaves less room for the bad.
A few months ago, I started a gratitude journal and tried to write at least five things I’m grateful for each day. I started with the big things – my kids, my health, my home – and then realized that it would quickly become a boring project because it’s easy to come up with the things for which one is expected to be thankful. Of course I’m grateful for those big huge shining starts of wonderfulness in my life. To challenge myself, I decided I would no longer write down the obvious. Some days were easier; I was grateful for a sunny day or a pleasant experience. Some days I could only come up with “I’m thankful today is over.” Nonetheless, I persisted.
I’ve slacked on this in the last few months, so I am now resolving to practice gratitude on a daily basis. I will write in my gratitude journal as often as possible, but if some days I just think my grateful thoughts in my head, I will forgive myself (see resolution #2) and be thankful for that.