This morning when I woke up, I remembered a chapter from Richard Carlson’s book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. He had a simple strategy for cultivating inner peace: Spend a Moment Every Day Thinking of Someone to Thank.
Carlson began his day by thinking of the people he felt grateful for and practiced this ritual as soon as he awoke. He explained that doing this little exercise reminded him to focus on the good in his life. “If you wake up in the morning with gratitude on your mind, it’s pretty difficult to feel anything but peace.”
With all the bad news in the world today Carlson’s advice is worth remembering. Wouldn’t we all feel better if, instead of starting our day by making a “to-do” list, we made a “to-thank” list?
I developed my own gratitude ritual many years ago. It evolved from a game my daughter and her friends played when they were in elementary school. Whenever the numbers on the digital clock came up all the same – 11:11, 4:44, or 2:22, for example, they would stop whatever they were doing, close their eyes and shout, “make a wish!”
This little game caught on with our whole family and long after my daughter left for college, we were still closing our eyes and making wishes. Then one day, in a moment of enlightenment, I realized that instead of wishing for something I didn’t have, it would be a much better practice to be grateful for what I did have. And from that moment on I changed my ritual. Whenever I see those numbers on the clock come up all the same, I take one minute to say out loud all of the things in my life I am grateful for.
The funny thing is that on a day when I might be feeling a little down, the mere act of expressing my gratitude for the roof over my head, my health care coverage, the rainbow in the sky, or the friend who just called, reminds me how truly blessed I am. I can feel a noticeable shift from negativity to appreciation.
I encourage you to try this simple ritual. Watch the numbers on your clock—in your car, on your cell phone, on your computer—and see if that minute of minfulness doesn’t lift your spirits and remind you that you have many reasons to be grateful.