I’d like to think I’m a pretty happy person. Am I happy all the time? Of course not. Have I gone through some happiness slumps in the past? Sure. But in general, I think I laugh a whole lot more than I cry, smile a whole lot more than I frown.
I don’t typically sit around pondering the origins of happiness, and I don’t feel a deficiency of happiness in my life. I have no intention of conducting a yearlong happiness project like Gretchin Rubin or eating, praying, and loving in foreign countries in pursuit of happiness a la Elizabeth Gilbert. But if I find a gem of wisdom about a simple way to increase my level of happiness, I’m not going to pass up the opportunity to try it out.
Two years ago, I read somewhere that one way to find happiness is to think about the things we’re thankful for on a daily basis, both the big things and the small. I decided to follow the author’s advice and learn to recognize and appreciate these things by keeping an “I Am Thankful” journal. For an entire year, I wrote down at least one thing I was thankful for every single day.
I can’t say the project made me any happier than I already was, but it did help me realize how many things I had to be thankful for in my life. Even on those horrible days when nothing seemed to go my way, I managed to find SOMETHING to be grateful for.
After that year, I stopped writing in my thankful journal. Unfortunately, it became yet another task on my to-do list. After my final entry (which I’m pretty sure was: “I’m thankful I’m finished with this journal”), I never opened the journal or thought about it again. Until last week.
I was reading a series of articles in Real Simple magazine about the history, science, and psychology of happiness when 2 sentences jumped off the page and hit me in the face:
After reading that article, I knew I wanted to resume my thankful journal. I may be pursuing the big stuff, but I want to remember to pay attention to and be thankful for those small moments along the way.
So as one of my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions, I’m starting Project Gratitude. At the end of every day, I’m going to think about at least one thing I’m thankful for. My hope is that this will help me remember those small moments in life that I typically take for granted.
I can’t promise to post my daily contribution to Project Gratitude on my blog, but I do vow not to let a day pass by without at least a thought of thankfulness.
Care to join me in Project Gratitude? All it takes is a sentence or two every day. Sneak it in at the end of a regular blog post or use it as a short post on those days when you can’t think of anything else to write about. And let me know if you have a Project Gratitude post because I’d love to see what everyone else is thankful for in their daily lives.
***For simplicity, the day on the post will be the chronological day of the year (e.g., today is January 3rd which is the 3rd day of 2011, hence Day 3). ***
So here we go…