A great way to start off the new year
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” — Oprah Winfrey
In 2013, I decided to participate in an event called the 100 Days Project. While it was established with designers in mind, I was attracted by the challenge of choosing one creative exercise and repeating it every day for 100 days. Instead of crafting a piece of art or a new design each day, however, I chose to focus on building a habit of gratitude, a simple practice that I'd read could have a powerful impact.
My challenge was to write down three things I appreciated each day for 100 days - and never to record the same thing more than once.
The first 30 days or so weren't too difficult - my gratitude lists up to that point included all the obvious things, for example: beautiful weather, healthy food, my supportive partner. But that's when the challenge really started for me.
Since I couldn't repeat anything I had written down previously, after I had expressed thanks for all of the obvious things in my life, I needed to start to notice things that I had previously taken for granted. So I began to stretch myself by appreciating things like the feel of the carpet under my bare feet, the fact that I had a job, that I had some quiet time to reflect.
A few weeks later, with some prompting from my coach, I experienced another breakthrough: I started to include in my lists things that I appreciated about myself. This felt a bit weird at first - I appreciate my...hair? - but after only a little while the practice began to transform the way I viewed myself and my being in the world. I began to notice and record things like that I confidently acknowledged a mistake I had made, appreciated that I invested in myself, was proud that I had the courage to take a chance (even though things didn't go as I'd hoped).
There will always be other tempting possibilities out there - a bigger house, a fancier job title, a warmer climate. Sometimes it is indeed worth pursuing the things we desire (especially if they are aligned with our core values). But regardless what actions you choose to take, I can speak from personal experience when I say that building the habit of appreciating what you have now, can make a world of difference in how you feel about your life today as well as your satisfaction further on in your journey.
What are you grateful for?