Years ago, I sat in a theater in Columbus, OH, listening to Elizabeth share her story. She was coming out of a difficult time in her life. She coped with her life turmoil by maintaining a gratitude journal. Each day, Elizabeth would write something for which she was grateful. It was not easy at first, but it helped. And, as time passed, she found it easier to think of things for which she was grateful.
Months later, I was in Kalamazoo, MI, listening to Layla share a similar story about how expressing gratitude each day helped her focus on the positive things in her life. Her presentation's title was "Find Your Happy," and thinking of things for which she was grateful was one way to focus on the positive aspects of her life.
I was intrigued. I had recently experienced some significant setbacks in my life. A painful divorce, a difficult move, and a new job that involved a substantial pay cut wore down my stamina and often left me feeling helpless. When I heard Layla and Elizabeth, my life had already begun to improve, but I often found myself drowning in self-pity. I was an active participant on several social media platforms, and I looked back at the thoughts I shared in previous months. Reading them, I saw a negative person with a pessimistic outlook. This discovery surprised me, as it did not match my self-perception.
I resolved to change.
Inspired by Elizabeth and Layla, I adopted a new daily habit. Each morning, my first thought after waking was to find something in my life for which I was grateful. I decided to share this thought on Facebook and Twitter. I did this every day for a week. Then every day for a month. Then a month turned into a year.
It is now ten years later, and I have missed very few days of posting daily gratitude.
Some days, I find it challenging to think of something. But I always do, which tells me that the positive things in life are sometimes hidden, but they are always there.
There are a few things for which I am grateful every day, such as my sons, my health, a steady job, and a safe and comfortable place to live. I try not to repeat myself, and I try to focus on things that are relevant at the moment, such as something I did or experienced yesterday.
I do this primarily for myself. It is a daily reminder to focus on the positive things in my life.
But many people have told me that my posts inspire them. Just like Layla and Elizabeth continue to inspire me. And that makes me smile.