I reckon the most common thing we are looking for in life is 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 the challenge for me.
I treated myself to a cool notebook. For me it was the ‘One Line A Day Diary’. I kept the diary on 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 of 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.
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 in 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.
2018 is my forth 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 why not try a little gratitude and see does it make a difference to your happiness. Ah g’wan, it’s great craic.
Thanks for reading this (see what I did there?),