Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Focusing On Gratitude

March 16, 2015 by Michelle

Thrive by Arianna HuffingtonWhen I look at my Facebook feed – or pretty much anything on social media these days – posts seem to fall into one of three categories. They’re either promotional, complaining, or over the moon about something. The reaction to them is interesting. We all know promotional ones tend to get ignored. The complaining ones start a trend of kvetching and making us all whiny. And so many of the over the moon ones immediately turn into “Wow, so jealous!” where intentionally or otherwise we start comparing ourselves and coming up lacking in the moment.

And this is all a huge generalization of my feed, but it definitely covers the vast majority of it. And the more I’m sucked into others’ problems or feeling inadequate about something I have no control over, the worse off I am. Couple that with the lack of sun Chicago has during the winter, and you have a recipe for not putting me in the best place.

Fortunately, our March From Left to Write Book Club had a unique challenge. We were sent Thrive by Arianna Huffington and – as usual – asked not write a review and this time not really a post inspired by her book but to take a challenge from the book and focus on it for seven days.

There are so many options in her book, but I knew immediately I wanted to spend my time focusing on gratitude. As she points out, “it all starts with daily, tiny, positive changes that move us in the direction we want to go.” Tiny changes? Yep, that’s my speed, just like the 40 projects in 40 days I’m working on – not everything has to be huge, but there has to be something.

And so I took her second suggestion of creating a daily gratitude list. Now I didn’t take it all the way that she did and share it with a couple friends who share theirs with me. I’m too shy perhaps to do that, but now that I’ve been keeping a daily gratitude list, I can feel its effect on me – by focusing on gratitude I’m changing my perspective on so many things. And I know exactly which friends I want to approach about creating and sharing daily gratitude lists.

The first day, the list was hard. I struggled to come up with something that didn’t sound trite or to have “enough” impact to be included. I sat with a blank pencil and paper and started for a good five minutes before scribbling something down. It got easier as time went on, and looking back at my entries makes me smile.

It’s not hard. It’s not time consuming. In fact, I can do it whenever I have the time or inclination, whether that’s first thing when I wake up or just after feeding everyone dinner or somewhere in between. I took a seven day challenge, and I loved it. And not only did I love it, but I’m expanding it to include two friends by inviting them to join me and share our gratitude. I may even post it on Instagram some days and share with everyone because I’m not done with this. It isn’t bragging. It’s taking the time to reflect and spend a moment focusing on gratitude and not why I’m inadequate or why life is just plain awful.

Day 1:
Kids’ bus got them to school on time.
I found my missing flip flops.

Day 2:
Dinner was in the crock pot and everyone was happy with what I made.
Mister Man got his homework done with no reminders needed from me.
Water shoes I ordered from Amazon fit everyone.

Day 3:
No after school activities means everyone can chill – we even got to play outside for a bit.
Picked up boxes in storage from my parents and found some items I’d forgotten I was missing.
PTO meeting was productive and lasted less than an hour – new agenda format was effective.
It is sunny today.
Organic produce box arrived today with a new driver who is really nice and it has mangoes!

Day 4:
Friend offered to bring Little Miss home after open gym.
My dad volunteered to stop by the house to pick up uniforms rather than having me drive to school to drop them off.
Mister Man helped me straighten the house without complaining.
I slept through the night last night.
It’s still sunny.

Day 5:
Found the perfect swim bottom for Little Miss – on clearance for $2.72.
Discovered returning clothing on Amazon is easier than I thought.
Tried on every piece of clothing in Mister Man’s closet, and I don’t have to buy him any new warm weather clothes.
Mister Man did his homework without me asking.

Day 6:
My husband is home today and took kids to Sunday school for me.
Mister Man’s last basketball game was today – no more late night practices.
Our local Irish restaurant has their full menu today and not the limited 5 item menu like last year that didn’t include any of my favorites.
Finished trying on all Little Miss’s clothes, and I don’t have to buy her any clothes except a couple sundresses.
New side effect of being sick: I have no voice, BUT my throat doesn’t hurt.

Day 7:
It is 70 degrees today. I wore a t-shirt with no jacket.
I live in a town where I can walk instead of drive to a lot of places.
Little Miss’s teacher plans to increase her differentiation and challenge her more.
Mister Man’s teachers are on his side and think he’s brilliant – though they’re as aware of our challenges as we are.
My mom was able to take Little Miss to gymnastics so we could attend conferences without her missing more gymnastics.
I’m truly getting over my cold.
I made it to Zumba class and was able to find a spot where I could see the instructor.
Mister Man decided to take a shower on his own without me reminding him.
I’m able to go to bed at 8pm when my kids do.
Dinner was easy and had leftovers for lunches tomorrow – and used up the last of some items in the fridge/freezer.

What does your life look like when you’re focusing on gratitude?

This post was inspired by Thrive by Arianna Huffington who challenges women to create a balanced life. Join From Left to Write on March 19th as we discuss Thrive. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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  • Thien-Kim

    I love how you found more and more things to be grateful for as the week progressed!

  • Nancy

    I noticed the same thing as Kim! It’s all about the little things, sometimes!

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