A few years ago, when I was going through a bit of a rough patch in life, I was challenged by something I read about gratitude. I'd seen lots of suggestions to write down five things I am grateful for and well, that was pretty easy most of the time...you know...food...water...a roof over my head...friends....family...done! Sometimes I got a bit more creative and a bit more specific, but it was really not a challenge.
Then I read somewhere that it was good practice to write down ONE HUNDRED things I am grateful for. Now that was a whole different ballgame! So, just to up the ante even more, I decided that I'd do it every day for a while. What a challenge it was. I sat down with my coffee each morning and taxed my brain until I had that one hundred items down on paper.
Luckily I was on holidays at the time, so I could afford to take my time and enjoy the process. Let me tell you, I struggled the first few days, but I was determined to do it as I was sure it would improve my outlook on life, which of course it did. I had so much to be grateful for; I took so many things, so many people, so much in life for granted.
If I missed a day I didn't give up and I didn't beat myself up over it, I just kept going from where I was. It's fun to date the lists so that when you look back you can see what you were thinking then. That's really what the exercise is about I guess, to make one more aware, more mindful of all that is good. We are hot-wired to notice and focus on the negative or not so joyful things in life (think for a moment how much time you devote to that), but if we take the time and make the effort to look for the good, it is there in bunches! Why not take the challenge yourself.
Grab a gorgeous book to write in first (I pay about five or six dollars for A4 size ones from the supermarket and find that size best because those lists will grow, trust me!)so that you are honouring your efforts, committing to do this for a time, and so that you can read back over your lists to remind yourself when you need to.
I'm going to share my first list with you. That's a bit scary, but it might give you the courage to try it too. Your list will be different, but if you try hard, you can do it!
100 Things I Am Grateful For
1. Health, 2. Happiness, 3. Strength, 4. Opportunity, 5. Love, 6. Children, 7. Parents, 8. Brother, 9. Friends, 10. Mentors, 11. Teachers, 12. Fresh air, 13. Clean water, 14. Fresh food, 15. Clothes, 16. Shoes, 17. Skin care products, 18. Mozzie repellent, 19. Manicure tools, 20. Nail polish, 21. Nail polish remover, 22. Furniture, 23. Paint, 24. Glass window panes, 25. Curtains, 26. Towels, 27. Soaps, 28. Shampoo, 29. Conditioner, 30. Jewellery, 31. Books, 32. More books, 33. Computer, 34. Printer, 35. Technology, 36. Cards, 37. Letters, 38. Stamps, 39. Cushions, 40. Carpet, 41. Trees,42. Flowers, 43. The ocean, 44. Fish, 45. Mammals, 46. Birds, 47. Reptiles, 48. Insects, 49. Butterflies, 50. Television, 51. Cars, 52. Trains, 53. Buses, 54. Planes, 55. Films, 56. Film-makers, 57. Philosophers, 58. Thinkers, 59. Universities, 60. Clouds, 61. Words, 62. Body language, 63. Communication, 64. Gravity, 65. Buoyancy, 66. Boats, 67. The wheel, 68. Gardens, 69. Music, 70. Musical instruments, 71. Songs, 72. Singers, 73. Restaurants, 74. Chefs, 75. A house to live in, 76. The cleaning lady (I was house-sitting and the house came complete with a cleaning lady - wow!!), 77. Petrol, 78. Mechanics, 79. Spirituality, 80. Healing, 81. Personal growth, 82. Learning, 83. Aha moments, 84. Oasis.com, 85. Positive Thoughts website, 86. The man in my life, 87. His support, 88. His love,89. Kisses, 90. Cuddles, 91. Connection, 92. Double happiness, 93. Time, 94. Timelessness, 95. Dreams, 96. Skills and abilities, 97. Appreciation of beauty, 98. My sense of wonder, 99. God...hmmm I must have miscounted that first time as there is no 100, but I did write...And yes, I could keep going!!
I think my lists got better as time went on...I was able to be more specific, like noticing the way someone smiled at me and being grateful for that. I could have written down why I was grateful for each of these things, but at the time I wrote them I knew why, and that is the important thing. There is so, so much to be grateful for, and as I review this list now, though life has changed in many ways, it makes me realise how very blessed I am to have known all these things in my life. It's also interesting to notice that my man came in at 86 and God at 99!! It is not a list of priorities, but a meandering list as I pondered over my coffee that first morning. I think I felt a tiny bit worried that I couldn't do it!!
I am very, very grateful for so many things. What will your list look like?