Recently, I started something I’ve intended to do for a while now—a regular gratitude practice. I’d read the countless studies and listened to the endless advice about how gratitude is incredibly good for our well-being and happiness, and was curious to see whether it would really improve my outlook on life. Ever the type A, I started a brand-new notebook, broke out my favorite pens, and started numbering every gratitude item. I meant to write five items a day, but I didn’t write every day, and on those days I did write I found myself surprised at how the things I was grateful for poured from my pen. Nice lady in coffee shop. Good run. Kids running around and screaming outside at recess. KOMBUCHA.
It seemed like an odd time to start this practice, because I’m currently moving and many of the things that I’m thankful for are people, places, and experiences that I’m just about to leave behind. But my gratitude journal, combined with the experience of the travails of moving, is having an unexpected consequence. It’s changing the way I think about the things I love. Rather than holding them tightly, trying to possess them completely for fear of someone taking them away, I’m learning to have an open hand. This morning’s peaceful walk is a gift, even if the afternoon is taken over by stress. Today’s coffee with a friend is a gift, even if in a few short weeks I’ll be living far away. Especially in a year when so many things feel unpredictable, I’m learning to let go of my intense expectations—for others, for external events, and for myself—and instead hold the things I love a bit more loosely. I have them now, and tomorrow there will still be things to be grateful for.
This week, our pieces offer a variety of ways to embrace this mindset. Rebecca Corgan offers practical tips for making the most of what you have when you’re cooking on a budget. Fay Schaeffer’s how-to guide for cleaning out your closet painlessly for the fall is another exercise in being willing to let go of what we have. And Laura Loker offers wisdom on letting go of perfectionism by reaching big goals—changing your expectations for yourself by focusing on something that makes you excited and curious.
I’m still a type-A person, and I’m proud to report two things: one, that my gratitude list is now on item 100, and two, that my everyday life really is just a little bit happier.
What everyday things are you grateful for this week? Let us know here.