Day 4: Gratitude

What are you grateful for?

You’ve had a bad day. Your co-workers were combative, your partner was irritable, you spilled coffee on your shirt, and you got stuck in traffic.

In fact it would feel great right now to just have a full on killer bitch session about all the problems in your life. So go ahead! Spend a couple seconds right now thinking of all the things that sucked about today.

Ok, done? How do you feel? Grumpy, irritable, tired, frustrated?

Now let’s flip that around. Starting at the beginning of your day think of all the things for which you are grateful.

It might start with the warm soft bed you sleep in. Maybe it’s not as nice as you would like, but you are inside and it’s better than a dirt floor.

Then you eat breakfast. Here you are with a bounty of food in front of you. So many people worked to bring this food to you. They planted seeds, grew grains, harvested, processed, packed, and trucked the food to a store where you could choose from a ton of different types of food. Amazing.

Then you get in your car or on your bike. Someone invented this. One day no car or bike the next BAM amazing efficient transportation.

As you go throughout your day notice the kindness people show. Notice all of the blessings that make your lifejust a little bit easier than it could be.

Ok now how do you feel? Warmer, calmer, more open?

Gratitude is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do to create happiness in your life. And this isn’t just conjecture. There’s actual science that backs it up.

In a study performed at the University of California, three groups of participants were asked to do some writing:

  • One group wrote about things they were grateful for.
  • Another group wrote about things that annoyed them.
  • The last group wrote about things that had affected them (with no emphasis on good or bad).

After 10 weeks those who wrote about gratitude reported feeling more optimistic and happy. In addition researchers discovered the following connections:

  • Practicing gratitude is easier than you think. When asked to rate their gratitude on a scale of 1 to 7, participants rated it as a 6.
  • Gratitude improves your well being. Practicing gratitude creates more positive emotions including satisfaction and optimism. Plus it can help you feel fewer negative ones.
  • It won’t turn you into PollyAnna. Being grateful won’t cause you to ignore or avoid the challenges in life.
  • Gratitude improves your attitude towards others. If you’re grateful you will improve your ability to be more empathic, generous, and helpful to others.
  • Gratitude improves your spirituality. The study found that people who practice some form of religion had a greater capacity for gratitude, because they were more likely to feel a stronger sense of community and connection.
  • Gratitude decreases materialism. People who practice gratitude are less likely to value material things or measure their success in terms of material wealth. They were also more likely to share what they had with others.


Ok now that you’ve read the research it’s time to try it out yourself. Here is your challenge for today (if you choose to accept it).

  1. Practice – Sometime today take out your happiness journal or a fresh piece of paper and write down: 3 things you are grateful for And one positive event you experienced today. The 3 things can be new things in your life or they can be things you often rely on. Very often my daily list of 3 things includes my cat, my partner, and sweet sweet coffee. Your positive event can be any good thing that happened to you big or small. I’ve written about great workouts, smiles from strangers, and giving a great talk to a large group.
  2. Reflect – Reflect on how you feel. Did this practice help you feel better about your day and the things in your life? Did you notice anything you were grateful for that surprised you? Did you have a hard time coming up with 3 things to write? Whatever it is, take a moment and become aware of how this practice felt. You can even write a short journal entry, email, or blog post about it
  3. Share – Now it’s time to share what your gratitude and your experience with others. So do one or all of the following.
    • Write a blog post about your experience of gratitude or about someone or something you are grateful for. Don’t forget to include a link or trackback to this post or if that’s too complicated post a link in the comments. BONUS: If you were grateful for a living breathing person, send them a link to your post and tell them that you are grateful for them.
    • Write a social media post about one or all of the things you were grateful for and post it via twitter #30dayhappy and/or via facebook on the 30 Day Happiness Challenge Group Page. BONUS: Again if one of these is a person tag them in your post.
    • Share your gratitude list, your positive event, your experience of the challenge, or any questions that this practice brought up for you in the comments below.

Again great work! I’ve loved seeing all of your posts so far and I’m very grateful for every one of you that has joined me on this challenge.

Be Well,


5 Things You Forgot to Be Grateful For

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Be Grateful

5 Things You Forgot to Be Grateful For

I recently finished my month long focus on gratitude practice. Though I have engaged in many types of gratitude practice in the past I enjoyed this month because it helped be realize how important it is to make gratitude part of my daily life.

Here is what I learned

The 5 Blessing of Gratitude

1. People are a Blessing –

Often For a long time I didn’t realize how important the people in my lives were until I lost them. But by practicing gratitude I’ve learned to appreciate these people while they’re still here.

One way I practiced gratitude last month was to send one email a day thanking someone who I know or have known in my life. And with each letter I realized how lucky I was to have these people in my life.

Of all the people in the world, these people came and blessed me. They taught me lessons and gave me strength. They were exactly the people I needed to grow and transform into who I am today.

This month of gratitude has taught me to stop a minute and appreciate the blessing of their kindness and attention.

2. Time is a blessing –

I often think I have more time than I do. More time to get dressed before I go to work, more time to call an old friend, more time to follow my dreams.

But I’ve discovered I usually end up having less time than I want. And because of this I’ve learned I need to cherish the time I have.

This month I practiced cherishing every day by sharing three good things about my day with someone I love. This practice helped me focus on the blessing each day is and kept me from getting caught in the spin of negative thought.

It’s so easy to get caught up in wishing I was someone else, somewhere else. But I’ve learned that by being grateful for where I am I can enjoy my life as it is right now.

3. Space is a blessing –

Sometimes I’m am afraid of empty space. There are time I can’t bear letting silence hang in conversation. Time I can’t stand waiting in line. And time I abhor a moment without something to do.

But this month of gratitude has taught me to appreciate these precious moments of space. Because space is what makes change possible.

This month I practiced being grateful for space by pausing. I found that when I gave myself a moment to breathe so much was possible.

Space is so simple and pure. And yet space is the fertile ground for new ideas and realizations. Space is the place where new wisdom begins to emerge.

By practicing taking a pause, I found that each of these moments is sacred.

The moments spent waiting for the bus are when a solution emerges to the problem you’ve been mulling over. Those moments when you don’t reach for your phone, can reveal how sad you actually feel. And those moments of shared silence can bring you closer then any words if you let them.

4. What I have is a blessing –

Our whole economy is based on the idea of not being happy with what we’ve got. And I’m not just talking about possessions. I’m talking about our bodies, our knowledge, and our lives.

On one hand we all have to work at being better people. On the other hand better selves and better lives start with appreciating where we are now.

This month I practiced being grateful for what I have by reflecting daily on my blessings. As I did this, I realized how rich and abundant my life truly is.

I found that when I can learn to be grateful for this job, this shirt, this set of knowledge, and this life. I also learn to find greater balance and peace in every step along the way.

5. Gratitude is a blessing.

More than anything I learned over this last month that having gratitude is a blessing in itself. It’s not that I need to live a life that rocks, so I can be grateful. It’s that I need to be grateful, in order to live a life that rocks.

The more grateful I am, the more I see my blessings. The more I appreciate my life, the more kind and open I become.
And the more kind and open I am the more things I discover that help me grow.

Now it’s your turn. What are you grateful for?


I also want to thank all of you for sharing your attention span with me. Your time and attention are your most valuable resource and I’m so honored that you share it with me. I promise to honor that with always giving you the best of my self on this blog.