100 Good Things: How to Practice Gratitude

I’m tired again. My house feels messy. I haven’t even written this week’s to do list and we’re already mid-week. I feel behind, people. And what’s the solution to this muddy underwater feeling? Gratitude. Let’s dig that old tool out of the box: gratitude.

If you have kids, or work in a school, you’re probably feeling tired, too. A friend of mine says every year, “Oh, I forgot - I hate this time of year.” I don’t hate it, but I need a shower. I need to work out. I need to buy groceries and get caught up on chores.

So, as a continuation of the All-Joy Diet from last week, I'm focusing on gratitude in the super small things. The ant-sized things. Gratitude this morning looks like this:

Thank you, God, that I have this sofa, so soft. If I didn’t have this sofa, I’d be sitting on the floor right now. Ouch.

Thank you, God, that I have this computer. A hand me down from my husband, an early adopter who buys all the latest things. If it was in charge of my tech, I’d probably still have the big desk top computer I worked on in grad school.

Thank you, God, that school is starting this week and that we have this last day to drive out to the coast and dig in the sand and just love our life here in Portland.

Thank you, God, for the air conditioner. (It’s over a hundred degrees here this week.)

As I practice gratitude, my life is transformed before my eyes.

I look around and my house is transformed. I see the pile of objects over by the tv and instead of seeing a mess I need to clean up, I see my son’s scooter that he LOVES and I see the bottle of bubbles by the tv and flash to us playing on the sidewalk the other night, me running around popping bubbles, him laughing.

I see my dear husband’s sunglasses, I see my tennis shoes, still sandy from the beach. I see the games piled up that we play almost every day. I see the yellow velour love seat we got for $60 at a thrift store outside of Chicago and our joy in finding it.

I see my notebooks, and I feel you out there, and I feel myself here. My family, still asleep. All is right. We are ok, and all is right.

How much gratitude can you conjure? 

Here’s my list this morning:

  1. The coffee pot that can be programmed to have my coffee ready in the morning.

  2. My relationship with my mom gets better and better and better. I love her and appreciate all she has done for me.

  3. I live in a city of my own choosing.

  4. Our little apartment is so close to the most delicious french fries in the whole world (truffle fries at Little Big Burger) and cute dress shops, and art supply stores, the food co-op and the most amazing Indian food I have ever eaten at Bollywood Theater. 

  5. I can drive an hour and a half to the coast or an hour the other direction to a mountain. Snow or water. Trees everywhere.

  6. We had our son later in life so we’d already done a lot of travelling and sowing of wild oats, so it hasn’t been hard to stay put with him.

  7. HAWAII!

  8. The sky here is pink as the sun rises and the birds and trees are everywhere. The flowers are amazing. I always thought it took sun and rain to make things grow. Turns out it just takes rain.

  9. Right in the city, I can take the Audubon trail and not even hear traffic, surrounded by the tallest trees, pileated woodpeckers, and ferns.

  10. Everywhere you look as you drive outside Portland, it is AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL. We go backpacking and just 2 miles from the road, we stop and look around and think this looks like a magazine. Because it is. This is where all those amazing photos in Backpacker Magazine come from, or those calendars at Barnes and Noble. This place is so beautiful it's featured on screen savers and calendars, and in magazines. Like a pin up of beauty.

  11. The coconut milk popsicles at the Alberta Street Co-op. Yum.

  12. That my weight is pretty naturally in the normal range. As much as I always wish I weighed 20 pounds less, the fact is that I’ve almost always been in the “normal range” on the charts, without much effort.

  13. My son is happy, he’s polite to us. He loves reading. He’s developmentally on track. He learned to ride a bike this summer.

  14. Stevie Nicks at the Minnesota State Fair.

  15. Meeting up with an old friend in Minnesota last weekend, meeting my new nephew - big crazy baby eyes, laughing, laughing - and getting to sit down and interview Matty Strickler.

  16. We have the money to generally not look at prices when we are ordering at restaurants. I remember back when the 39 cent bean burrito at Taco Bell was an exciting meal for me.

  17. Two working cars.

  18. My problems: Now my big problem is that one of the cars is dirty and I haven’t been motivated to get it cleaned. It’s missing a hubcap. I know where to get one, but I have to make a special trip to the shop. Contrast this with 12 years ago when I didn’t have a car at all, had to wait hours for the Damen Bus in Chicago and got stuck in the train on a regular basis as the blue or red line stopped on the tracks for no reason, for hours. Compared to this, I’ll take the hubcap problem any day!

  19. TV TV TV TV TV: Current faves: Issa Rae’s new HBO show Insecure, Amazon’s Catastrophe, Narcos, and I’m rewatching Breaking Bad. So good! (Shout out to Roxanne Gay for her bold declaration of love for TV. Taking back TV for the arty people!)

  20. My marriage. Those of you who know me well know that my husband and I almost didn’t make it. 4 years ago we were headed toward separate apartments and separate lives. Thanks to therapy, 12-step, and a ton of date nights with easy/inappropriate comedies (Girls Trip with diet coke for me and a craft cider for him on our most recent date night) our marriage is better than ever. We are loving each other and loving life and I don’t take it for granted. I know how deeply things can fall apart.

The point of writing all this is not to recreate a highlight reel like some people do their Facebook feeds, but to say out loud there are a lot of screwed up things in the world (people are literally dying out there) but there is a lot of beauty and goodness too.

My beauty and goodness may not be yours. You may hate movies like Girls Trip. That’s ok. (But, seriously, Tiffany Haddish on Jimmy Kimmel telling about taking Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith on a Groupon tour is one of the funniest things I have seen recently.

You have your own funniest movies, dream trips, and everyday miracles (coffee, anyone?). Take the time to look around and just soak it in, this life you’re building for yourself.

One way of understanding the world is that it’s a buffet that God (the Universe, whatever) has made for us, and we get to go around and choose what we want.

We may not always have the choices we want, but we can choose the best of what’s available in the moment, and by doing this our experience gets better and better.

There are a lot of amazing things in the world. 

What are you choosing today? 

Take a minute to comment below and let us know one great thing that you’re thankful for, big or small.