The experts tell us that practicing gratitude will increase happiness, well-being, mindset, and success at work. I haven’t seen gratitude linked to weight loss yet but that’s probably next. I follow happiness researchers like Gretchen Rubin and Shaun Achor, and I believe in the science. I simply can’t force myself to keep up the gratitude practice for more than a few days at a time. Achor’s advice is simple and compelling. Write down three things you are grateful for that occurred over the last 24 hours. These don’t have to be profound. Things I have listed over the years include “light traffic because of school vacation,” “watching Marie Kondo on Netflix,” and “got a great deal on new sheets.” According to Achor, taking note of three things each day that you are grateful for will help your brain start to retrain its pattern of scanning the world, looking for the positive instead of just the negative. You can find his very amusing Ted Talk here.
So, as we begin week five of the hardest and strangest time in most of our lives, I am sharing three things I am grateful for today.
We Got to Take Our Vacation – Before the pandemic intensified in the US, we got to take our long-awaited family vacation to Belize. While two of us work in local government and were on the telephone a lot by the end of the trip, we still hiked in a jungle and went snorkeling for an entire day on a catamaran. The cabins at the jungle resort had NO KEYS. There was only one restaurant – so there were no decisions to make! “Where do you want to eat tonight?” “How about at THE restaurant?” If you spit out your coffee picturing me snorkeling (afraid of water, sea life, drowning, you name it) you are not alone. Thanks to the kind brilliance of our guide, I too was able to join in.
We Live Near a Rail Trail – There is a wonderful and “social-distance approved” rail trail that runs right by the end of our street. Like so many of us, I am walking (occasionally running) virtually every day. I am also going into work every day, so there is no excuse for not incorporating this routine into my life after the pandemic. My younger daughter and I recently walked during the only two hours of snow in 2020.
I Planted Bulbs – April me is grateful to November me for planting 200 bulbs on a cold and raw day. They will bring much joy this month.
I am especially grateful for the employees in all of our communities who are on the front lines providing public safety, public works, and public health services. I am grateful for the hospital and health care workers, the grocery and pharmacy workers, and all who are performing essential jobs during the pandemic.
Even though we have no real idea what awaits us in April and May, I feel like we have made it through the initial phase of this crisis. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Let’s practice – what or who are you grateful for?