Day 8 of Gratitude Challenge

I recently read How to Change: The Science of Getting From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Katy Milkman. The book is an interesting and insightful look into how we can make change happen. Milkman writes “[I]f you want to change your behavior or someone else’s, you’re at a huge advantage if you begin with a blank slate – a fresh start- and no old habits working against you.” Of course, this is easier said than done. She further writes that “[w]e’re more likely to pursue change on dates that feel like new beginnings because these moments help us overcome a common obstacle to goal initiation: the sense that we’ve failed before and will, thus, fail again…This explains why every Monday, I’m sure the week ahead will be more productive than the last.”

I intentionally started this challenge on the FIRST day of the month which conveniently fell on a Monday. A double fresh start.

The pandemic has created more opportunities for fresh starts and provided a chance to focus on what is important. Remember during the height of the pandemic when everybody was wearing mask? You could see no expression. No compassion. No care. No joy. Just eyes hiding behind a mask.

As the pandemic winds downs and we take our masks off, we can see faces again. So today, give smiles and see what happens. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Smile at strangers. Smile at coworkers. Smile on the phone. Smile on Zoom. I bet at least one person smiles back. Be grateful for gift of human expression and emotion. Happy Monday!

Day 6 of Gratitude Challenge

It has been a challenging and busy week. Yesterday, I battled with my inner voice. I questioned everything. Am I doing my best? Is this challenge impacting anyone? Does being grateful and thankful really help?

We all have off days. I was searching for the my sense of purpose and place. Though I pontificated about the benefits of gratitude, internally I was questioning its efficacy. Yet, I know this challenge works. I did this gratitude challenge last year hoping it would help at least one person. It did. It helped me.

This year, my hope is the gratitude challenge to helps many. But, if it helps just one person, it will have be a success. By that measure, it has been successful because at least one my readers has told me so and because it has helped me.

To be grateful and thankful is a choice. It is a choice that each of us controls. Chose gratitude today. Express gratitude today. Take control today by resisting the urge to purchase something for yourself. Instead, purchase something for someone else or give to a charity. Further, when you purchase something for somebody else, take a moment to reflect about how the action makes you feel. Do you feel better?

I plan to take my dog to a local coffee house and purchase a few coffees for the people behind me in line. I don’t expect or want anything back. I just want them to have a nice part of their day. I challenge all of you to do something similar. Have a great day!

Day 5 of the Gratitude Challenge

For a few moments yesterday, I was able to put a smile on my face thinking about special memories. There are many benefits to consistent and regular gratitude. Spending five minutes each day journaling about your gratitude, increases your happiness. Don’t believe me? Read about 27 other cool benefits here.

Today I challenge you to spend time being grateful for and focus on those people who make life better. Personally, there are too many to list here. For now, I will start with my family. They are the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about before I sleep. At some point today, I will reach out to at least one family member express my gratitude. Perhaps I might reach out to a couple. I challenge you to do the same. Happy Friday!

Day 3 of the Gratitude Challenge

So what did you notice yesterday? Did focusing on the little things help? I noticed many things that I often take for granted. I noticed the heat in my home after coming in from outside. I noticed the fallen leaves and those yet to fall. I noticed my soup needed more spice but was still thankful I had it.

For day three, the challenge is simple. Say thank you to at least one person today. It can be for something big or small. Just say thank you and mean it.

Have a great day!

Day 4 of the Gratitude Challenge

Some days are harder than other. Did you thank anyone yesterday? Did anyone thank you? Did it change your outlook on the day?

Understand this challenge is not all about rainbows, puppy dogs, fairy tales and Hallmark movies. Life is challenging. There are significant obstacles to success. However, if you can spend a few moments each day focusing on gratitude, you life can be dramatically improved.

Today, ponder the happy moments in your life. What are the memories that bring a smile to your face? What memories make you laugh or just feel better?

There are so many memories in my life for which I am grateful. A few examples:

-My wedding day. I remember it raining. I remember my wife worrying about the rain. I remember looking at my wife and wondering how did I get so lucky.

-The birth of my son. I remember the excitement and anticipation of the day. I remember the joy, love, and excitement I felt when I first held him.

-Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. I remember the tension of the game. I remember the crowd reacting to every small glimmer of hope. I remember the joy when the Twins scored the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning. But mostly I remember spending the day with my best friend.

What are you most cherished memories? Think about them, tell somebody about them today and reflect with gratitude how those moments made your life better.

Day 2 Gratitude Challenge

Take time today to notice and appreciate the little things. Look around. What little things can you notice and appreciate? Maybe you will experience something in nature. Perhaps you will notice the smile or laugh of a friend. How about the smell of fresh coffee or tea? How about electricity or running water? Find the joy in these small things and be grateful.

An example from yesterday – While walking my dog, I saw a whitetail doe darting across an open field nearby. While I was watching her run, I noticed the reason she was running. I young buck was chasing her. My dog also noticed and wanted to join the chase! It only lasted about 10 seconds before they bounded out of sight. I am thankful to live in a city where this sight is possible. I am thank the gift of nature.

What will you notice today?

Day 1 of the Gratitude Challenge

Day 1 – No complaining or whining all day. NONE. Speak only positive words all day. Think Ted Lasso. Find the good rather than the bad. This is especially challenging because I believe we are hard wired to focus on the negative over the positive.

Truth be told, I started the challenge last night as my beloved Minnesota Vikings took on the Dallas Cowboys. It was challenging. I focused on how much joy the Vikings have brought me over the year. I did not focus on all the times they have disappointed me – though that has been many. If I focus on such negative experiences, my mood spirals downward. Plus, why keep watching? I watch because I am hopeful. Heck, if I can make it through a Vikings game speaking only positive words, I can do just about anything! I was not entirely successful but many would have laughed watching me! Have a great day. Stay positive.

A thought for today: “Keep this thought at the ready at daybreak, and through the day and night – there is only one path to happiness, and that is in giving up all outside of your sphere of choice, regarding nothing else as your possessing, surrendering all else to God and Fortune.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 4.4.39

November – A month of gratitude

It is hard to believe my life changing adventure began a year ago. I had buried my brother just over a month before and was in a very dark place. My wife provided me with a gratitude challenge. For 21 days, I was to think, act and live with a gratitude mindset. Doing this each day and posting about it each day, began a transformation in my mind, body and spirit.

This year, I will do as similar challenge but for all of November and post about it here. I challenge you to do the same. Post will go up every morning no later than 6:30 am Central Time. I will continue to provide other regular updates too! It starts tomorrow!

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