Gratitude Creates Change

How Writing Down One Grateful Thing a Day Changed My Life

For all of 2023, I decided to write down one thing that I was grateful for at the end of every day.

We've all heard of this helpful hint to improve our lives; to use gratitude to remind ourselves how good we have it; to write down ten things we're grateful for every day, or to write down five things that made the day wonderful; keep a gratitude journal.

A journal with a pen

I understand the concept. And I fully endorse it.

But, for reasons I couldn't explain, I never "found the time" (i.e. wasn't willing to put in the time) to write them down. 

I am a grateful person. I am beyond thankful every day for the life I get to live, to do what I love, and to have my family with me. Life is good. I mean, really good.

But I decided to change the rules up a little. Instead of making things harder on myself, and writing yet another list, I decided to keep things simple. Simple living is my daily intention.

For 2023, I wrote down one thing I was thankful for in my day planner - you know, the old-school way of looking at the schedule and planning the day - and that was it. One thing.

This day planner of mine acts as a calendar as well as my to-do list. I try to keep my to-do list short because as I've talked about before, writing more than I can handle is absurd. I can't do it all and even if I wanted to, my day ends and my energy runs out before I have the chance to check everything off.

But... when it came to gratitude, I knew I needed to find a way to record the good things in my life. I wanted a way to look back at all the good things that happened in one year. Life had to be more than checking things off a list.

Journals are for long writing, and that's not what I wanted. I needed something that I could quickly add to my grateful line in my planner and settle down to read and drink tea for the night. 

I decided my day planner was the perfect place. 

So after writing my to-do list the night before for the subsequent day, and writing in calendar events, at the end of the day, I would add in my grateful bit.

But, I decided to put a spin on this gratitude thing. I decided to up the ante - raise the stakes, so to speak - and instead of writing "grateful thing of the day" I wrote "miracle" and proceeded to fill in the blank.

It wasn't that I was just grateful for this good thing, I certainly was. But I wanted to treat it like a miracle. 

Often things happen in our lives that are good, beautiful, kind, sweet, and crazy awesome. But, what about if I called these little things miracles? Would that open my eyes to what my life truly was?

So, I began treating all the good things that came to me as miracles. Because, let's be real here, in our world of doom and gloom, and of negativity everywhere we turn, I needed some good. I yearned for miracles. I wanted to relearn to see the good that should be prominent before me.

Here's a short list of things I listed as miracles that were a part of my "writing down one grateful thing a day" journey:

  • Found a dime
  • Talked with one of my best friends on the phone
  • It rained!
  • I sold something in my Etsy shop
  • A magazine picked up an article of mine
  • I ate dinner out
  • Someone complimented me on my outfit
  • I drank a great cup of coffee
  • Finished a superb book

As you can see, most of these are simple things. Extremely simple.

An open planner with a pen and a to-do list
So, why did I have to get to this point to remind myself that everything good that happens is really good? Yes, a big event is worthy of celebration but so is the sun peaking out on a rainy day, or the sound of birds chirping in my orange tree.

After a year of compiling my daily miracles, I could see that many good things happened to me all the time. The big miracles are no better than the small miracles.

And by paying attention to what I appreciated, or what good thing was directed to me, I began to take notice of so many things I took for granted. Waking up with breath in my lungs, the ability to hear, to smell, to see, or to feel the wind on my skin.

Just because these are things we experience daily doesn't make them any less miraculous.

My little miracles leveled the playing field of grand miracles.

Getting my autoimmune disease under control is a huge miracle. But so is finding a $5 bill in the pants pocket of a vintage piece of clothing I'm selling. They're equal to me. Because that's how I need to view it.

The size of the miracle is irrelevant. Paying attention to the miracle is what matters; that I'm seeing it, aware of it, and am thankful for it.

When we see how good we have it, it puts the negative in our lives into perspective. It unfetters us to the confines we've put on our lives- thinking they should be one way when they've gone another.

I feel like this has transformed my life - like I'm really getting to see what's happening around me. By paying attention to the small good things, I'm making room for more tiny miracles. Seeing and acknowledging small good things begets more small good things.

Being thankful allows us to be free to be who we are supposed to be: grateful human beings with tiny miracles happening all over the place.


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