The Abundance of January
At various points in my life, I’ve been intentional about looking for things to be grateful for each day. One year it was “Thanks to Thanks”—posting online what I appreciated daily from Canadian Thanksgiving (Oct) to US Thanksgiving (Nov). Once, I even managed to post what I was grateful for every day for a year. It’s now a thing. (Although I didn’t start it. I just wanted to feel hipster-y for a second.)
With winter in full descent and a new year upon us, I decided this would be a great time to step back into a practice of gratitude. I opted for a more private route—writing 2-3 things on beautiful paper every day in January and placing them in a mason jar. The tangible nature of being able to see the gratitude add up has been lovely—allowing me to both appreciate the moments individually each day and then collectively as I’ve watched the jar fill. It’s helped beat away the winter funk, and it also gives me something I can revisit to remember the great things that have happened this month.
This practice is such a simple and easy way to change your perspective on life and bring in more joy, even when (ESPECIALLY when) you’re struggling. I’ve turned many tough days around right at the end just by taking a few moments to recall and write down things I appreciate from the day, even seemingly little things. There’s this moment as I write where I feel a shift in mood that’s amazing. As a one-time thing it’s a great way to pull yourself out of a funk, over the long-term you’re retraining your brain to operate less in funk mode and more in joy mode (official terms, y’all).
A Harvard Medical School article states:
“The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals—whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
See! Greater happiness! Even science says so.
It’s so simple, and this can be a great solo practice, one shared online or even one done within a family or work group. Try it and let me know what changes you notice—short or long term!