abundance: part 4 of 4
gratitude is the third habit to spark abundance.
it’s simple: start paying attention to what’s around and be grateful for it. often it’s easier to begin with the macro—health, family, shelter—and move down to the small, positive elements of life, but work however you want.
if you feel like getting formal about it, gratitude journals are officially everywhere. i’ll highlight some options, but their common theme is a daily commitment, which makes sense. feeling grateful should not be a bi-weekly or seasonal routine, like picking up dry cleaning or washing the windows.
some sleek tools to keep track include the 5-minute journal, an app called “gratitude,” and Thnx4, a sharable online journal. Thnx4 is run by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, which researches social and emotional wellbeing.
there’s also the low-tech, budget, self-guided option, of course. i know someone who writes for 10 minutes a day—five in the morning, five at night—in a generic notebook about everything he’s thankful for.
confession time: i use none of the above. i tried the 10-minute writing for a couple of months but never felt anything from the process. i trust it, but it’s not for me.
spur of the moment, in the moment thankfulness is my speed. i like catching myself in the midst of mundane tasks and express gratitude for them.
i think of these realizations as comic book exclamations, the—“blam!” “ka-pow!” “zwosh!”—inserted into ordinary life, animating the scene and forcing you to pay attention.
i’ve been doing this for years about situations, feelings, and items alike. i’ll hear a honking battle between drivers and think, thank god i’m not involved in that altercation. or, out of the blue, i’m grateful to be myself. and, i’m lucky to have running water, while washing the dishes.
here’s a more nuanced example. i caught the flu (fever and sore throat) over Christmas. i don’t usually mind getting sick, but this was rough. i didn’t even open my presents until the 27th. there i was, feverish, listening to Serial alone in the dark, and missing a major holiday.
i could’ve wished to be well and grown annoyed at the bad timing, but i was grateful. for what, exactly? i was in a warm bed in a cozy house with loved ones just outside the quarantined area. plus, did i mention Serial?
but i went further. as previously noted, i was only awake between forced doses of Nyquil. and i spent much of that time clamoring for more toast via text. i’m a terrible patient who rarely eats grains, so i was excited about the sudden all-toast diet delivered to my bedside.
despite my enthusiasm, i was in trouble once it arrived. because, not to over share, but i could barely swallow. drinking tea was ok because it was soft and warm. but sharp-edged toast was another matter.
i’d chew and whimper before psyching myself up to feel the pain of swallowing every few minutes.
eventually, between rounds, it occurred to me: i really take this swallowing thing for granted. plenty of people can’t swallow painlessly on their own for lots of reasons. i’m fortunate i’ve been able to so far and i’ll be grateful again for the ability once i’m well.
i’m not making this up. nor am i bragging or trying to sound superior. it was just a fleeting observation that stuck with me. the takeaway for you is, when it comes to gratitude, everything counts. likewise, you should count everything.
it requires a leap of faith to get started with the abundance mindset, then simple reconfirmation to continue. and trust me, you’ll get over how crazy acknowledging minutia sounds. especially once you experience the payoffs.
if you’re having trouble persuading yourself, turn it into a game. since there are always aspects of life to appreciate, you’re guaranteed to win every time.
eventually, gratitude becomes your default setting—easy and automatic. in response to a friend complaining about waiting in a line spilling onto the sidewalk, you’ll find yourself saying, “it’s such a beautiful evening. i’m grateful the heat dissipates at night.”
but stay sincere. snarkiness or going through the motions will backfire.
i hope this series helped and made sense. let me know what you think. and don’t be discouraged if i don’t immediately write about your suggestions. i often plan posts in advance. plus, i’m a slow writer and research a lot.