I had received a gratitude journal as a gift about 9 months ago. It was a slender, pale orange/corral colored notebook, with a leaf and the word Gratitude embossed in gold on the front. It seemed like a sweet idea, but I was really doubtful that it was something I would be interested in using. It was a very kind gesture, but I was sure that it wasn’t something that fit my way of thinking. I knew that I was grateful for the things that I had. I acknowledged my thanks to others around me when appropriate.

I have never been someone who has knowingly taken what I have for granted. Nor have I been someone who doesn’t say thank you when being presented with something, be it a cup of coffee, change and a receipt, a door being held. With all that being said, one day, quite out of nowhere, I went in search of that gifted notebook. I held it in my hand and looked at it. I turned it over and back again. And then I knew, somehow, I knew, that I was ready to use it.

With the first entry I hit all of the big things right off of the bat, my husband, my kids, my dog, my house, my health. All of the usual things that most people would say right away. This went on each day for about a week. As I came to end of the week I started to think about smaller things that I was grateful for, sleeping well the night before, the children not yelling in the morning, a hot cup of coffee, time to read, the people I saw at barre class. I had a lot of things that I was lucky to have.

It didn’t take long to do, maybe 5 minutes daily. I found myself going to do it every morning just like I made my cup of coffee each morning. In fact, I had my gratitude journal next to the coffee machine and would do it each day without even really needing to prompt myself. This gratitude list became something I looked forward to writing down each day. I started to be able to finish the daily list within a few minutes of starting it. It became quicker because I was looking for things, people, and opportunities to be grateful for all day, every day. When it came to writing down my gratitude list from one day to the next, the words flowed and they flowed quickly.

I was still writing down my initial choices, but I was now including things like my cup of coffee, a friendly remark someone made, being able to help a friend, a smile on my child’s face. One by one my gratitude entries became about all the good I was seeing around me every day. I was seeing the good and focusing on the good because that is what I was after. That was what my focus was on now, the good.

I challenge you to look intently at your environment, where you are, who you spend your time with, what you are exposing yourself to via social media and television. Is this the world that you wish to live within? If yes, then there are so very many things to be grateful for. If no, then change it? Change your environment. Change who your surrounded by. Change what you are allowing to enter into your space. Change your focus. It’s entirely up to you.

My focus had changed a little bit at a time, without me knowing it, and it happened because acknowledging my gratitude each day had become a habit for me. I no longer needed to spend time thinking about things I was grateful for, they were all around me and they were showing themselves to me because I was open to seeing them. I hadn’t realized how closed off I was to looking for the positive in the world around me. I hadn’t realized how much I was letting negative feelings, attitudes, people, and events cloud my daily life. Once I realized how easy it was to find gratitude I couldn’t look around without seeing it.

It was easy now because that’s what I was seeking out. That’s what I was craving. It was looking through a lens that I had chosen to use because that’s how I wished to see the world. Is it easy to do, no. It is easy to fall back into the habit of focusing on the negative and allowing that to cloud your judgement. It’s easier to let the negativity wash over you, then it is to question where the good is in a challenging situation. It’s challenging, but it can be done. How?

Look for the good. Actively look. Look for the helpers and focus on them. Look for the lessons you have learned and are learning and focus on them. Allow yourself to grow and be open to all that is available to you. It’s your choice. It always has been, and it always will be.

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