The key to an amazing life I have found is to be grateful for all the wonderful things that I have, are given and have earned. I am even grateful for the pain, for the lessons, for the insights through tests and challenges, but I am weird like that–go figure. On this New Year’s Day, one of my rituals is to look at the last year using my journal, a giant pot of coffee and time to reflect. I think about all the gifts, love and growth that took place during the year. I look at where I said magic words to events, people and things that were opportunities; those words always come down to Yes, Thank You and More Please. Science validates what some of us already know: that the practice of gratitude leads to happiness, health and well-being; as if that was not enough, it is free.
How you choose to practice it is up to you, whether you lie in bed at night and play back all the wonderful moments of your day feeling how good they feel in the replay movie in your head, or writing them in your journal or even writing them down on slips of paper and put them in a jar all year and review them on New Year’s Day, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that they are real; not generalized auto-pilot-robo-crap to put a check in the gratitude box but rather authentic heartfelt moments of true gratitude. What that feels like is when our chests expand in a moment of relief, happiness or love. Think the Grinch’s heart growing three sizes too big and you are getting close.
How we find those moments is up to us too, but I recommend you find them by noticing what is going on around you, which means putting down your phone and being present. Yes, I understand that can be a horror for some, but really your life does not happen on a screen. I understand this is a broken record. I have news for you: Nobody at the end of their life says, “I should have watched more YouTube videos, been on Facebook more, played more video games or tried to tweet their goodbye’s to love ones.” What I hear folks at the end saying is, “I should have been there more, taken more risks, loved harder, said ‘I am sorry,’ played more and ate more donuts. So look up from those devices and step into your life.
Start to feel the victories of things like running to your car seconds before the meter person gets there with a fat ticket book, really tasting your first sip of rich deep coffee/tea at sunrise, or enjoying that long lazy stretch on first waking. Notice the joy in the laughter of children, the heart-tugging beauty in music or art and the unfolding of silence at the end of a hectic day. Just soak in the beauty, the humor and the stillness.
I am always scanning my environment for lightness, whimsy, genuine connection and laughter in the awkward, bad or FFM moments of my life. When things go to shite, I try to shift to the positive outlook, like “At least the dog didn’t die after eating two cigars he found, and I know all the numbers for animal poison control now and how to induce vomiting in man’s best friend, and my gag reflex is stronger than I thought, and best of all there is a large glass of wine in my future.” I can look around the large uglies of useless baggage I have drug around as they become smaller and smaller in comparison to what feels good, knowing one day they will be gone. I can put distance between things that feel crappy and invite in things that feel better. I can choose to luxuriate in pleasure, in the soft, in the vibrancy of color, sound and taste as if it were my last day on earth. Because one day it will be and we don’t know when, so why wait to savor?
As life flies by, I can’t always be in the moment, but I try. For the days I can’t, I build in time at the end of the day where I can stop, pause and reflect on how very sweet life is. I highly recommend starting your New Year by saying Yes to more things, Thank You to everyone and everything, and when it is sweet, thoughtful and delicious of course say More Please … and another round for me and my friends too!