I’ve been practising gratitude for several years, but over the past few months I’ve done it in a much more organised and consistent manner. Previously I used to experience highs of gratitude that would wash over me. It would typically be on Sunday evenings when getting ready for a new week, when the fridge would be full and I’d reflect on the week and mentally prep for the one coming up. I was always pretty vocal about this on Instagram, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when a friend reached out a few months ago and asked me if I wanted to take part in an experiment of micro-gratituding.
The idea of the experiment is that every evening you list 1-3 things from the day that you are grateful for and, in order to keep yourself accountable, you do it in a group. You should avoid repeating the same gratitude in order to train your mind to actively look for new things to be grateful for every day. In other words, you’re expected to be very specific (that’s the ”micro” part). So, instead of saying ”I’m grateful for having food in my fridge”, you’d say ”I’m grateful for the lush salad I had today—it was full of sweet honeydew and it was delicious”. Not every day will be remarkable, and that’s the point. That even on shit days, you’re training your mind to look for things that were less shit or even (gasp!) good.
It sounds easy enough, but I was quite intimidated and hesitant when my friend first reached out. It sounded like quite a bit of work. She managed to convince me though, and I’m really grateful that she did. We started the WhatsApp group at the end of February, right before the pandemic kicked off in Europe. It’s been a difficult spring in many ways, but my gratitude group has helped me to see the good in the bad. Here are some of my gratitudes from the past few weeks:
- Grateful for the lunch nap I took today. Much needed.
- Grateful for the moment today when H and I lit a fire and H then played one of my favourite songs on the piano. It was wonderful.
- Grateful for the realisation today that I’m so happy that I’ve quit smoking. I haven’t smoked for 1.5 years now and for a long time I was just a bit annoyed that I’d quit. I genuinely loved smoking and the only reason I quit was because it became a hassle to hide it from the kids. But today I was in a lift that stank of smoke and I felt genuinely happy that that’s not part of my life anymore.
- Grateful for the lovely lunch H and I shared in the garden. Both of us think it’s a bit of a hassle to carry a tray into the garden (LOL) so we rarely do, but today we did and it was wonderful.
We timeboxed our gratitude experiment to six weeks, but at the end of it some of us decided to continue. We’re now approaching our third six-week stint and it’s very much a gift that keeps on giving. Not only is it making me notice things about my everyday life that I otherwise wouldn’t, it’s also giving me space for longer-term reflection and how snippets from my everyday life are small pieces of a much larger puzzle. It’s making me take note of what I value in life and, as such, it gives me instructions on how to live my life to the fullest—while showing me that I don’t need to keep chasing something elusive that ”would make my life better”. The grass isn’t greener. I have everything I need to be content right here and right now, if only I stop to look. It’s also underlining how many of the things I enjoy in life are about both making progress and making an effort, which I love in itself.
To top it off, it’s very humbling to read other people’s gratitudes. I am beyond impressed by the people in my group even outside of our gratitude experiment—they’re highly accomplished women whom I admire in many ways, and getting to hear and see how they’re tackling adversity and identifying things to be grateful for in their everyday lives, even when things are rough, is an immense privilege. In a way, it’s making me feel grounded and connected to humanity at large. We’re not as different from each other as we might think.