Every year on this day my Facebook feed fills up with people being thankful for their family, friends, partners, kids, and so on. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to make myself do the same.
I know I’m not a terribly grateful person, although if we’re all quite honest with ourselves, I imagine few of us truly are. I’ve come to realize that being grateful requires more than a simple post on a Facebook feed on Thanksgiving or a short prayer before a meal. Being grateful requires reflection, and I’m not sure we’re wired that way.
A true spirit of gratitude must be cultivated; saying ‘thanks’ every once in a while does not make a grateful person. A one point in my life, I kept a ‘gratitude journal’ for approximately one year. Every day before I went to bed, I wrote down 5 things that I was grateful for that day. At first it started with the usual: friends, family, food, shelter, yadda yadda yadda. But as the year progressed, my lists became less germane and more thoughtful. And I could sense a shift in my thinking. Something about making that list everyday seemed to make me happier.
There’s lots of research out there that links gratitude to being happier. Why? Maybe it’s that being aware of all that we have to be grateful for makes us more content with our lives. Or maybe it’s just the simple act of being more aware. Gratitude journals force us to stop and think and actually write down those things for which we are thankful. The act of writing makes it not only clearer in our minds, but forces us to be present for those few moments.
So what am I grateful for? Everyday it’s something different. These days, though, I am most grateful for being in a good place mentally and for a job and career that seems to be tailor-made for me in many ways and that I find challenging and fulfilling. And just writing that down has put a smile on my face.