For decades I’ve been taking 15 seconds out of my day to write a single sentence that always begins “I’m grateful for…”. Some days I forget, but I’d say I get it done 95% of the time. When I first started doing this, I’d just write it on whatever scrap of paper was close at hand. I’d put it in my pocket for the day and then throw it away into the universe at the end of the day. Yes…I littered. A lot of the time, the scraps would go into the wash. It was never intended to be a collection that I could refer to, but an “in the moment” thing that reminded me how fortunate I am.
Last year, I downloaded “Day One” for my iPhone. It has a few benefits over the scraps of paper:
- It pops up a reminder every day reminding me to make an entry
- It’s always with me, because my phone is never more than a couple of feet away
- It catalogues all my past entries
- It prevents littering
The catalogued back entries have been interesting to re-visit. I find that I’m almost never grateful for things, but instead am grateful for people and experiences. This surprises me, for some reason. I kind of wish I had some of those old scraps of paper so I could see if this was always true.
Apparently, money isn’t really as important to me as I thought it was. Obviously some of the experiences have required cash, but what I’ve found is that I always preface my daily note in those instances with “I’m grateful that I have enough money to…”. Sometimes it’s a relatively small amount of money, enough to buy a cup of coffee that I really enjoyed, for example. Much more rarely, it’s a lot of money…enough to take a vacation or buy a new toy.
Don’t misinterpret this as some sort of hippie bullshit about positive vibes making your life better. Don’t compare it with prayer either, because it’s nowhere near as formal as prayer, and I’m not talking to anybody but myself. I don’t have any evidence that this practice has had any kind of positive or negative impact on my life, other than that it makes me feel good for the 15 seconds that I’m doing it. In that regard it’s completely selfish.
I took last Friday off work. I slept in, and then headed over to my old friend Paul’s house to record a podcast with him. Yes…the entry for Friday was “I’m grateful I can take a paid day off work to go hang around with Paul”.
On Saturday, my parents dropped over for 20 minutes to have a cup of tea on their way home…”I’m grateful my parents came for a quick visit.”
Today, I spent a couple of hours with Neil, Dean, and Ellen discussing our plans for a TV show. They’ve been my friends for longer than they haven’t been (Paul too). I’ve known them all for about 30 years, give or take a year or two. You know what today’s sentence was.
I’m a lucky guy, and I bet if you start making a point of noticing it, you’ll find you’re pretty lucky too. Can life be better? Sure it can. But it could be a lot worse too. I could have been born in sub-Saharan Africa, for example. It’s good to remind myself of that every day.
That’s it, I guess. I don’t have anything to rant about today. Sorry.
Somebody told me that meditating helps with maintaining peace of mind and a generally happy outlook, so I decided to try it. I can’t tell you if it works or not, because I usually end up falling asleep.