As 2015 came to a close, I started to work on my resolutions
for 2016. Having read numerous articles
about the power of writing down your goals, visualizing your life unfolding as
you dream, etc., I decided to give it a try.
I separated my objectives into the various categories of my life:
Family, Work, Health, Social and Home.
Taking the time to identify what you actually want in life is the first
step to achieving it. (Or so I have read.)
Now, half way into 2016 (I shudder as I actually write that),
I am able to assess how far I’ve come since the beginning of the year. Certain goals have already been met (yay) while others are waiting for any semblance of a start (not so yay) but I recognize
that the most powerful resolution that I made for myself this year was to
practice gratitude. In a social-media-heavy culture, just looking at your phone can make you feel less than gracious, so it’s
important to remember and appreciate all of the blessings that we all have
rather than focusing on what we don’t.
Recognizing full well how hokey it sounds, I’ve started a
gratitude journal. At the end of the day
or the week, I try to reflect on all of the things big and small for which I’m
grateful. Entries can range anywhere
from watching my daughter excel at something that was previously challenging
for her, to the way my baby says “Mama” like an angry Frenchman, or the fact that
the random bagel shop had sun-dried tomato cream cheese, or even the amazing
boots I tracked down on eBay at half the price.
Whatever it is, thinking of the things that make me happy and filled
with joy has affected my overall outlook and has encouraged positivity across every
facet of my life.
Studies have shown that the simple act of writing down the
things for which we’re grateful results in benefits including better sleep (much
nicer to go to bed after thinking about everything that put a smile on your
face than how much you have to do the next day), fewer symptoms of illness and
more happiness among adults and kids alike.
Having long believed that happiness is a choice one makes
every day, I am trying to instill an understanding of gratitude in my children
as well. While the baby could probably
teach me a thing or two—I mean the guy seems so grateful for just about
everything (second-child syndrome?)—my almost-4-year-old is also on
board. She will even practice meditation with me—we both close our eyes
and think of all the things that make us happy.
As the writer Anais Nin once said, “We see things not as they are, but
as we are.” Harnessing your thoughts and using all of the crazy voices in your
head for good and not evil is taking control in a world that can often feel
like it's spinning out of control. In a
sense, I think practicing gratitude might be one of the most powerful tools we
have to combat all of the negativity and violence we are bombarded with on the
daily and somehow still recognize the goodness.