Remember when nothing went your way? When one crappy thing led to another? You overslept, forced to skip breakfast, and rushed to work. The traffic was a crawl and, of course, you were late. At work, it was a day of emergencies and putting out fires. Then finally, as you were heading home and looking forward to a relaxing evening, you realized your car got a flat tire. You found yourself in the middle of the road, stuck with your car, changing a tire.
That’s a bad day.
We’ve all had some version of this and it sucks, but the mere fact that you are reading this blog means you are one of the most fortunate people in the world. You likely aren’t starving. You obviously have internet and a roof over your head. If the story above happened to you, it means you have a job and a car. Even on the worst of days, there’s always a reason to be grateful.
I don’t understand why we tend to focus on the shitty experiences in life. Why do these seem more important than the good ones? Open up Facebook, it won’t take long for you to find someone complaining about getting stuck in traffic, a delayed flight, or the slow service in a restaurant.
Instead of posting the negative on the internet, God knows there’s plenty of that already, why don’t we try posting positive glimpses of our day.
I started posting thankful tweets when I was feeling particularly down. The wife and I were in one of our little spats. No one was talking to each other. I was lying in bed and needed to get my mind off things. I had an idea to write about new habits I wanted to implement for 2016. Then I remembered one of the keys to happiness is to be grateful. That’s where the idea to tweet thankful every day came from.
Here’s what I posted.
Thankful for time with family.
— carlo villarica (@sobermusings) January 17, 2016
Why tweet it out? You could be just as thankful without having to announce it to the world. You might even be uncomfortable with sharing your thankful thoughts out loud. I discovered a few things.
When I started tweeting thankful every day, the first person to notice was my wife. She now looks forward to it every evening and even reminds me to post in case I forget. Tweeting is like saying it out loud. Other people will notice and they will expect it. It’s a subtle peer pressure to continue the practice of being thankful.
A few of my friends have even taken notice.
If I were to be thankful in my head, then it would be much easier to brush off. Sharing it to the world means that I’ve made a commitment to myself and to other people to continue the practice.
Every night before writing the tweet, I quickly began noticing things about my day that I hadn’t realized before. This pause for reflection, even if it just took two minutes of my evening, forced me to stop and look back at in a positive light. I remembered the feeling of seeing my kid’s face in the morning, the surprise hug from behind from the wife, and even the taste of good coffee. These made all the difference. Life is the accumulation of all the little things that happen to us. Make them matter by acknowledging and remembering them.
I mentioned at the top that I remembered that one key to happiness was to be grateful. The biggest reason is perspective. When bad things happen, and they will, it happens to everyone, it’s easy to focus and dwell on it. The trick is to not make these challenges in life consume you. When a bad day changes how you react to other people, how you treat yourself, and how you look at the world, then it’s a problem.
Staying thankful balances out the inevitable bad things that happen. It reminds us that good things are inevitable too. Good things happen to us every day. You’ll soon find that you don’t need to look far. They are all around you.
When I look at my twitter feed, it’s a reminder not of the struggles I had that day, but of the wonderful small things that are normally left unsaid and unacknowledged. I remember when we went swimming out at sea, had lunch with friends, spent quiet nights in the house, hit the mall with the baby, and ate oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
What are you thankful for?