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.
Inês Calisto says
Thank you so much for this post and for reminding me (and all your readers) that gratitude is, as a matter of fact, the biggest step towards happiness.
A thousand kisses from the Azores!
randee Schwartz says
I love this! Gratitude is perhaps the easiest vehicle to arrive back in the present. On a side note, I was in Boston 2 weeks ago. It was SO unbelievably hot! My friends and I walked to the grocery store, just so we could stand in the frozen isle 🙂
Tip for staying cool that I just discovered during the heat of the North Carolina summer (though thankfully we have A/C). Those rice bag warmers I use to sooth sore muscles or warm cold toes…. stick those bad boys in the freezer during the summer months. Then you can put one on yourself when you’re overheated and it cools you right down. I find that the back of the neck, lower back, or upper thigh cools me down the quickest after a long time outside in the garden.
I’m always happier when I focus on things to feel grateful for instead of things to feel frusterated about (:
leticia garcia says
Oh Robyn i can relate to this… I know the weather can be unbearable if it is too hot …
I am writing from Madrid and the typicak summer weather is around 100 ºF …So you can imagine how difficiult is to just exist…
Nicole @ Laughing My Abs Off says
OMG yes. This post could not be more up my alley. Cultivating an attitude of gratefulness and always trying to find the good in a situation has made me so much happier and lighthearted and just much more pleasant to be around. Often I see some of my more Type A friends get so annoyed and frustrated over the tiniest things and I just wish they could do a small mindset shift to notice all the good about that situation. It is most definitely a practice and took several years to get to, but it’s second nature now. I like to write in a gratitude journal first thing in the morning (just 3 things I’m grateful for.) I also sometimes use that as a meditation prompt or while I’m going for a walk. I also use that tip about being grateful for future things, and it’s great. Not always easy but it does feel good.
I love this post! Sometimes I find myself complain over the small things, but I am learning to appreciate everything in some way. Your point about doing a boring project stuck with me, mainly because I had this one course in university that I did not like at all. It had so many tediously frustrating assignments that caused my computer to crash and did not relate to the course content. Instead of complaining about it, I can be grateful for the learning experience it gave me, the patience I now have and can exercise while completing other assignments, and surprisingly the skills the course gave me: I received two job offers because of the abilities I learned from this course!
Thank you so much for yet another amazing post, Robyn! I’ve been reading every single one of your posts for years, and I cannot wait to see what’s in store for your future 🙂
Johnathan Best says
Attitude is the key to success. Your analysis and sharing are really in line with my thoughts soccer random