Sweating and breathing heavily after climbing up several sets of stairs, I opened the door to my apartment. It was absolutely boiling. Boiling!! The humidity in Boston last week was quite treacherous — it felt unbearable to purely exist in, let alone cook, clean, or even think about hiking up and down all the stairs to do laundry in an apartment with no A/C. I realize that it’s much hotter in other places, but for Boston it felt so hot!
I’d just gotten home from my second day of a new job at a hospital — my scrubs were sweaty, I was hungry for dinner but had no desire to turn on a hot stove or unload the dishwasher, and I was becoming easily annoyed at the littlest, most irrelevant things. Just as I was about to get some food going and, quite honestly, start complaining (to myself) again, a little thought popped into my head: “Ok wow. I’m actually so thankful I get to wear scrubs for this job. Yeah I’m super sweaty and need to take a cold shower asap. But…at least I don’t have to be in nice work clothes like my last job in this sweltering heat. I’ve never had an opportunity to wear scrubs to work before.” Even though it was hot and gross and I had been letting that get the best of my attention and attitude….for a moment, I felt lucky. I appreciated this new job. I appreciated that, so far, I’d had two really good first days. I felt happy to be able to wear comfy (and cute) scrubs + sneakers to work. In that second, I realized that while I couldn’t control the heat, I could change the way I was thinking amidst the gross temperatures. This sounded simple. Yet it was having a more-than-simple effect.
I was probably a bit dehydrated, and while being agitated is surely a normal, understandable part of being stuck in a humid heat wave, I was letting it affect an otherwise perfectly calm, lovely, and free evening for myself. There were so many more things to be grateful for than there were to be mad and pessimistic about: I have a job, an apartment to come home to, food, water, and supportive friends and family who I love and who love me.
This roasting day last week helped me realize something that I hope to make into a habit this summer. A habit that hopefully grows and evolves as I do: cultivating an attitude of gratitude and being in a state of thankfulness when I can be. I realize it isn’t always easy or our first inclination to be grateful. And I completely realize that we all have the right to be annoyed at things every now and again. That’s sometimes a part of being human! But here’s the crazy part — what I’m learning through trial and error is that when I practice more gratitude, I find myself becoming happier, more easygoing, and less bothered by things in daily life. I don’t know about you, but anything that provides an avenue to more happiness and love in my life is something I want to try and incorporate when possible.
‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding. -Alice Walker
With that story being said, I wanted to pass along some tips for gratitude that I’ve tried recently — maybe they’ll help you too. And if you have any thoughts on thankfulness, or ways to add more of it into your life, I would love to hear them in the comments!
1.) At dinner, or as you wind down for the evening, jot down one thing that you’re glad or thankful for from that day.
I know, I know…everyone says this one. (I thought it was annoying at first, too.) BUT, I’ve actually realized how easy it is to do this, and how nice it feels to be winding down from a busy day and take literally five seconds to appreciate something good from earlier. There are many, many moments in each day to find gratitude in, and writing down just one is a positive step towards cultivating more thankfulness.
2.) If you’re not into any kind of journaling, set a “gratitude” alarm that goes off at a good time for you — you can make the alarm have a prompting label that’ll give you a little nudge to find thankfulness. Such as “what’s something good that’s happened today so far?”
Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life or who described themselves as joyful, actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice. -Brené Brown
3.) Be grateful for something that you don’t have yet, but that you’re hoping to happen. This may seem woo-woo or “out there”, but I’ve actually come to love this so much. It’s one thing to cross your fingers and wish for that exciting thing in your future; it’s another thing to have the confidence that it’s going to happen — so much confidence, in fact, that you’re already thankful that it’s coming into your life. You might not think about it like this right away, but I think this way of thinking can be brave. Deeply hoping in something feels risky.
4.) Change your wording. If you find yourself complaining about XYZ, changing how you phrase your thoughts could be a first step towards gratitude. For example, if you’re upset about a grade you received or a project you have to work on that isn’t super up your alley, maybe try changing your perspective and see what happens. Instead of “I can’t believe I got that low of a score on this test”, try saying “that was hard. I studied a lot, and even though I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, hey at least I’m getting a college education and I’m still learning a ton of stuff that otherwise I wouldn’t be.”
Instead of “This project is the stupidest and most boring thing I’ve ever had to work on, why are they making me do this,” you could say, “Well it feels good to make money. This project might not be my favorite, but I know I like other things about this job that I appreciate, and I’m thankful to be receiving an income.”
And that’s what I have to share for this month! I hope you have a wonderful day. Today, I’m grateful for YOU, for Robyn + the RLWH team, for ED recovery, and for a new job that I’m finding so much fulfillment in.