By Rob Ficiur
Gratitude is a choice we each make. Thanksgiving is one of the seasons of the year when we are reminded to slow down and be grateful for what we have. However, in our daily lives it is easier to focus on what is not going right.
A few months ago I had the unforgettable experience visiting a friend who was dying from a fast moving cancer. We went to cheer her up. She did not dwell on her unexpected illness. Instead she recounted to us the great blessings and memories she had in her life. Since that day, I have found it hard to complain about the daily challenges that used to turn my mood blue.
We don’t have to wait for life changing experiences to look for the good we have in our lives We can try to develop the habit of expressing gratitude for what we have; and not focusing on the negative. The following are three practical ways we can ingrain this habit.
1. A good thing happened to me today – At the supper table have each family member (and any guests) describe one good thing happened to them. I know that teenagers may balk at this, but be persistent. As we do this on a regular basis, our families will begin thinking and looking for good things in our day to day life.
2. Make a list – I am currently reading a novel set in 1838 Missouri. Derek and Rebecca were enthusiastic pioneers trying to farm on the frontier of the United States. The young couple’s first home was a Soddy – a house constructed of blocks of sod. (Yes with this type of home you can grow grass on the roof.) During a multi-day rain storm the couple began to feel gloomy. There was nowhere to go – and the house had leaks in the roof. At the point where most of us would have got upset – Rebecca tried a unique medicine that 200 years later we could use more often.
Instead of complaining (again) about the leaks overhead and the mice that were in their bed, Rebecca began to list the things she was thankful for. After she listed several specific items for which she was grateful she challenged her husband to do the same. At first Derek wanted to wallow in his self-pity caused by the rain. However at his wife’s insistence he named two things he was grateful for. Within an hour the mood in the home had changed. It was still raining – and leaking through the roof. Mice were still their most numerous pets. However, instead of focusing on what they did not have these pioneers focused on what they did have.
3. 100 Happy Days: A Life Changing Challenge (?)
This summer, while visiting with to two college students, I learned about the 100 Happy Day Challenge. They had participated in an internet challenge to find / identify something happy for 100 Days in a row. One of them said that he was almost at the final day of 100 Happy Days. What had begun as a program or task had become part of his life. Now he actively looked for things in his day (and life) that made him happy. What was he going to do when he finished his 100th Happy Day? As he talked through is situation he realized that he “had to” sign up to do 100 Happy Days again. The habit had become so engrained in him, that he felt he needed to do it again.
Starting Monday, October 13, I will begin the 100 Happy Day Challenge. I will post my Happy Days on Facebook – (hopefully as diligently as these young men had done). For the next 100 days in a row I will identify and post on Facebook something that made me happy that day. If you want to follow me on Facebook send me a friend request – and follow me on this new journey.
According to 100happydays.com, I have a 29% chance of completing my goal. The site stated that the most common reason that 71% of people fail to meet their 100 consecutive days goal is because they are too busy. It concludes by asking, “These people simply do not have the time to be happy? Do you?”
The second college student was the one who had first tried the 100 Happy Day challenge. When we visited him, he had just finished playing piano at a cancer center. That day, during his one hour a week volunteering at the piano, six people had stopped to thank him for the cheer his music had brought.
Interesting to see that the Graduate of the 100 Happy Day Challenge was now bringing happiness to those around him. If you (along with me) try this 100 Happy Day Challenge what ways can we show our thankfulness for all that we have? And if everyone expressed more joy and gratitude, would the world be a happier place?