I reckon the most common thing we look for in life is happiness. With the buzz of the new year and all the resolutions that are supposed to go with it, I wanted to share the best resolution I’ve ever made.
I actually think it’s the only one I’ve ever stuck to, and if that statement remains true for the rest of my life, I won’t mind. It’s pretty clear to me why I stuck to it too; it’s had a huge influence on my overall happiness.
In January 2015, I made a promise to myself to write down three things I was grateful for every night just before I go to sleep. I had read a lot about gratitude and really I wanted to put it to the test. I had read that it had been proven that creating a habit around being thankful not only makes you happy but continuing the habit contributes to better long term happiness. So I wanted to see if it would work. I am a pretty positive person, but sticking to it would be a challenge for me.
I treated myself to a cool notebook. For me, it was the ‘One Line A Day Diary’. I kept the diary in my bedside locker and every night I wrote down three things I was grateful for in the last 24 hours. The key is to be specific. For example, every night I could have just written down, ‘I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for my friends. I’m grateful for my dog.’ Over and over again. And yes, at the start I didn’t write much else and soon realized I was getting bored with it. Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for all those things but I had to get specific. Why was I thankful for my family? Well, I was really grateful to sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat with my Mam today. Or I was so happy when my friend text me today to check in. Or I was so grateful for the perfect cup of tea today.
Gratitude is the appreciation of things that are not deserved, earned or demanded – those wonderful things that we take for granted.
So how did I notice a change? They say it takes 21 days to build a habit and I can see at the start I missed a day here and there but I kept going back. I found myself walking through my day scanning it for the good things; the little things. Some days it was easy. Something would happen and in that instant, I’d know it was going on my gratitude list that night. Some days there was so much, I could hardly narrow it down. But the big difference I noticed was on the bad days. It’s just as important to keep up the habit on the bad days as on the good days. You have to dig deep to find that spark in a day that felt like it had no light. Maybe the perfect cup of tea is all that went right for you that day. Maybe it was a smile from a stranger or the relief of seeing your own bed at nighttime. But the thing is, I never failed to find something, even on the bad days.
This will be my seventh year in a row keeping up my gratitude habit. Reaching over for my gratitude diary is one of my favourite parts of the day and sends me to sleep a little happier and lighter every night.
So with all the talk about new years resolutions, make sure you keep your own wellness at the centre of your resolutions and why not try a little gratitude and see does it make a difference to your year. Ah g’wan, it’s great craic.
Thanks for reading this (see what I did there?),
A big thanks to Niamh for sharing this with us. If you have a story you would like to share with us, pop us over an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to support us and the work that we do, you can donate below