“If you’re always grateful for the little things, it’s hard to avoid happiness. It’s a lack of gratitude that often keeps us feeling down.
There’s a little ritual Angel and I practice every single day, that can turn hard days into easier ones, and extremely difficult life situations into far better ones—and it won’t surprise you either. It’s the ritual of gratitude.
Of course, this is such a fundamental ritual, and yet it’s one we often forget to practice. But when we do practice diligently, it can quickly transform both our minds and our lives.
Let me give you a quick example. Just over a decade ago, I remember one specific night I was struggling with grief, and also feeling very stressed about being broke, without work, and unhappy with the direction of my life. I was depressed, and very lost.
But that night I pushed myself hard to put things into perspective. I wrote out a list of everything I was truly grateful for, even as everything in my life seemed to be going wrong. It ended up being a pretty long list, and I still have the list hanging on my home office bulletin board today. Some of the key things on it include:
- I am married to a loving, encouraging, beautiful woman named Angel.
- I am alive.
- I have a relatively healthy body.
- I have a roof over my head.
- I have loving parents and other extended family members, who I love.
- I have a few close friends.
- I have the ability to learn new things and grow.
- I can read.
- I can hear music.
- I can see the sun rise and set.
- I can run at the beach (at the time we lived in San Diego, walking distance to the ocean).
- I can taste delicious home-cooked food (Angel is a pretty darn good cook).
The list keeps going and going, of course, but you get the gist. The little yet marvelous things I was taking for granted every day were now in black and white right in front of me. The hard times I was struggling to cope with didn’t suddenly vanish, but things were put into better perspective. I was no longer focusing solely on the hard times with tunnel vision, but instead broadening my focus into the periphery of my life where a whole list of amazing things existed that could nurture my inner spirit.
Yes, there are incredibly painful parts of my life, and it’s OK to feel the pain they bring. But it’s also important that I remember the rest of my life too, and to also remember that even the painful experiences make life as intricate and remarkable as it is. Life would be impossible without…