How I’ll Find Happiness in 2011: Expressing Gratitude in January

Well, that month flew by! As we’re on the last day of January, it’s time for a recap of my first month exploring The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky as a part of my journey on finding happiness in 2011:

(picture from amazon.com)

The month of January was dedicated to the act of expressing gratitude: counting your blessing for what you have or conveying your gratitude and appreciation to one or more individuals whom you’ve never properly thanked. Let’s review how I did just that:

1) As suggested by the book, I did my best to journal the things I was grateful for each day. The book does suggest finding something that works for you but to not over-practice it:

For example, if you count your blessings every single day – in the exact same way, in a non-varying routine  – you may become bored with the routine and may cease to extract much meaning from it.

Unfortunately, this fell a bit by the wayside as journaling usually does for me. Funny how I can write a blog consistently but picking up a pen can be torture some days! This exercise did give me a chance to reflect on the happier parts of each day, which was a nice way to stay positive in preparing for the next day.

2) I showed my gratitude to my blog readers by holding some fun giveaways. As another strategy, the book suggested introducing a visitor to the things, people and places that you love.  During the month, I shared my love for some products and companies that I’ve recently enjoyed, including:

Congrats again to Heather, Karen and Jimi, and thank you all for entering! It was a fun way to show you all just how thankful I am to have you read my silly blog on a regular basis!

3)  I made granola. I FINALLY got around to making my Joints in Motion granola this weekend! Those who kindly donated $20 to my half-marathon fundraising goal between December 7th and 24th will receive this personal thank you gift from me. The packages go in the mail today – better late than never!

4) I expressed gratitude directly to another. One last suggestion from the book was to express your appreciation in concrete terms by writing a loved one a letter detailing what that person did for me and exactly how it affected my life. This was my last task for the month and I chose to select a few individuals that have really helped me recently. It may have been expressed via snail mail with a thank you card, a Facebook message or by a much needed face to face chat. Some of them knew already how much they meant to me. Others, not so  much. In the end, it meant a lot to me to show them that they are doing good in their every day lives.

LONG STORY SHORT: In expressing gratitude over the past month, my eyes have been opened to the little things that I over look on a daily basis:

  • I might complain about my commute on I-480 during the work week, when I should be thankful for having a job in the first place, let alone a career that I enjoy.
  • When feeling lazy and tired, I struggle to get moving, when I should be grateful for the benefits that regular exercise gives me.
  • I stress about fitting everything into a hectic schedule, when I rather thank my lucky stars to have the relationships in my life that keep me so busy.

What does the month of February have in store? It’s time to cultivate optimism. From the book, this can be done by keeping a journal in which you imagine and write about the best future for yourself or practicing to look at the bright side of every situation.

I’m not giving up on journaling just quite yet! I’m really looking forward to exploring the strategies in the book and sharing them with you over the course of the next month. So stay tuned: it seems like there’s even more to look forward to in PIP land!

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4 comments

  1. Jess says:

    I love this! Especially the last part about turning those things that normally drive you nuts into something positive and to be thankful for. It’s so incredibly easy to get lost in the negative and losing out on all of those positive little things that really add up to one damn good life. Thanks for the reminder my dear!

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