A while ago I posted about my experiment of wearing a “thank you” button. One of the outcomes of that experiment was a greater awareness of opportunities for gratitude as I go about my day-to-day life.
That awareness isn’t a high volume chorus line extravaganza. It’s more of a steady low-grade hum. While there are certainly things in my life that I’m grateful for in a big way, what I notice most is how much more I notice the small things. For example:
- The coffee I have at a coffee shop
- The barrista who was funny and pleasant with me
- The beauty of the artwork on the coffee shop wall
- The fact that my arm functions healthily and easily as I lift the coffee cup to my mouth
- The taste of the coffee
- The feel of my arm in motion
- The fact that I’m being aware of opportunities to be grateful
And on and on it goes. It’s not about big rushes of gratitude – frankly, that would be exhausting. Rather, it’s an ongoing small-scale noticing. And what you notice shapes your life.
How gratitude can change your life
If you want to change your life, change what you focus on. Imagine there are two of you in parallel universes. You each get up in the morning and have the exact same identical day – with one exception. One of you gets sucked into lack-based thinking (I don’t have enough, I’m not enough), and the other of you habitually gravitates towards noticing things to be grateful for.
Exact same day. Exact same mishaps and irritations. And two completely different experiences.
I know it can be easier said than done to change to that more positive perspective. It doesn’t tend to happen with the wave of a magic wand. But like so many things, it’s a habit you can develop.
Gratitude: Shine a light on the specks of dust
When you first start focusing on gratitude, it’s typically the big things that you notice. But over time, as you exercise that gratitude-recognition muscle, you’ll find that the small things pop up in your awareness more and more.
It’s like turning a spotlight on in a dark room and suddenly seeing all the specks of dust floating in the air. They were always there, but until you shined the light on them, you didn’t notice.
The more you notice the small things, the more you notice that they really are everywhere. Life has a high density of little gratitudes, if we’ll just flip the light on and practice seeing what’s there.
And the more we notice, the more that shapes how we experience our days.
When it comes to gratitude, there’s big power in noticing the little things.
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