Gratitude Practice changed my life

It may sound a bit dramatic but starting a Gratitude Practice changed my life. What began as a 21-day challenge resulted in a totally new me and is something that I continue to this day. I don’t know about you but even though I am a classic “obliger” (see Gretchen Rubin for more information) I have a hard time sticking to things. I am a bit of an all or nothing girl and if I fall “off the wagon” I tend to give up entirely. Experts say that to form a habit, doing something (or not doing something) for 21 days will dramatically increase the probability that what you’re doing or not doing will simply become a way of life. I have tried challenges before and have fallen at the 7-day mark and the 14-day mark so the idea of keeping anything going for 21 days was worth pursuing.

The 3 good things challenge was pretty simple, really. For 21-days, at some point during the day (for me it was at the end of the day) find 3 good things about your day that made your day brighter. They could be little things or big things but they just needed to be things that helped you to get through your day. Maybe it was the perfect cup of tea, a chat with a friend, a surprise letter in the post, a hug from your child, a lie-in? Whatever stood out in your day as GOOD! It’s suggested that tracking your good thing is even more valuable if you physically record them. At the time, 4 1/2 years ago, the easiest way for me to track my 3 good things was to do so on social media. I would choose a photo from the day to post, caption the photo with my 3 good things and ping…post it on Instagram and Facebook. I used the hashtag #embracehappy which related to my infant programme at the time. While I am not the only person to use the hashtag #embracehappy, currently the number of posts for #embracehappy is just over 14,000! I love being able to search back through the hashtag to find my images and 3 good things from the early days.

Oddly, back in 2014, when I hit 21-days for the 3 good things challenge, I just kept going. I loved what it had done for me in that short period of time. It allowed me to slow down, to appreciate the little things, to breathe, to pause, to calm myself down and to be more patient in general. Finding 3 good things in every day made me want to celebrate those good things too. Finding 3 good things in every day helped me to see how important it is to stop and smell the roses. Finding 3 good things was something I ended up doing, every single day, for 1000 days. Next to being married for the last 12 years and being a Mum for the last 10 years, it’s the longest time I have done anything!

As I was nearing that 1000 day marker, I began to get a bit tired of the 3 good things format. I watched a video by Marie Forleo where she talked about her own Gratitude Practice. She talked about finding ONE good thing to celebrate about someone or her day and really expand on it. I decided that I liked the idea of taking more time and thought with my gratitude practice so I chose to wrap up 3 good things after 1000 days and began a daily Gratitude moment, again for me, shared online. What I loved was the opportunity to reflect on my day and find time to give thanks. Taking that time truly changed my outlook on life and helped me to appreciate all of the good in my life. I also chose to focus more of my attention on that good and to stop moaning about the little things online. No one needed to hear me whinging about my day, I decided.

Here we are 4 years and 7 months later and I am still keeping track of my good things. I have reverted back to more of a 3 good things approach and have switched to writing things down, old school style. I’ve decided that not everything needs to be shouted about online (irony??) and I would like to have a written record of good things to look back on. I’ve started journalling more and thoroughly enjoy getting out colourful markers and documenting happy moments in my day. What could you pick out of your day that made you smile? Maybe a Gratitude Practice could be something to include in your life? Try it for 21 days and see what you think!

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