“We hold the key to lasting happiness in our own hands. For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
From Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer by Brother David Steindl-Rast
It was just one of those days. Nothing in particular had made me upset that particular morning, but by the time I got to work, I was the grumpiest mcgrumperson. But I don’t want to be grumpy! I whined to myself. And then I realized that I didn’t have to be.
So often, negative moods are fueled from the inside. On a grumpy day, I tend to hold onto negative thoughts and roll them around in my mind, just getting more and more annoyed or frustrated about small things. I’ve realized that holding onto negativity is the same as holding something in my hand – I can let go. It’s an action that I am responsible for, and an action that I can therefore change.
So on this day, I decided to replace the grumpy thoughts in my head with gratitude. Each time a frown formed on my face, I immediately wrote down the first thing that popped into my head that I am grateful for. It’s by no means an exhaustive list of the things I love, but it’s a good sampling of things that make me silently whisper “thank you” to the universe.
- Break-apart-and-bake cookie dough
- Drinking milk from tea cups with my daughters
- Draft beer
- Climbing exhausted into a soft bed with cold sheets
- The ability to pay all my bills on time for the first time, ever
- My mustard yellow Newton Supply Co purse
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Really good coffee
- Really Good Emails
- My crocheted Pegasus
- Mediocre coffee when good coffee is not available
- Socks from Madewell
- The ability to text my mom random emojis so she knows I think about her
- Gifs of kittens
- That the father of my children is a good man and a loving dad
- The pocket app, which has encouraged me to read more
Many of the items on this list came to me as I started to feel grumpy about their opposite. For example: feeling tired from waking up early = gratitude for the wonderful feeling of getting into bed at the end of a long day.
I encourage you to try this exercise the next time you’re feeling frustrated. What benefit is this experience going to provide you? What things in your life are super awesome? How can you choose gratitude in this moment?