Great news about learning to live a grateful life: researchers at the University of Minnesota found that only about 40 percent of a grateful disposition is inherited from our genes. That means that we can have an effect on the other 60 percent of our personal gratitude!
One of the most popular and effective way to cultivate gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. It’s an opportunity to focus on the abundant gifts we are fortunate to have, as opposed to harping on what’s lacking in our lives. Here’s my gratitude journal for this week:
♥ So grateful to have electricity and heat this week. Thinking back to a year ago and the devastation and destruction Hurricane Sandy brought to our area, I’m so appreciative of the beautiful autumn weather we’ve been enjoying this year. We were without power for nine days last year after the storm, and honestly, we tried to stretch out our gratitude as far as we could and make the best of things. But it didn’t quite last the whole nine days. We continually look back and try to take lessons from our time in the dark, remembering that there’s always something to be grateful for, no matter how small it might be.
♥ Opened my door to find a funny and meaningful gift out of the blue from one of my sweetest, dearest friends in the world, Mrs. Schmenkman. What a terrific surprise to brighten my week! We have been through so many of life’s blessings and challenges together over the past 25 years, and she’s always there to make me laugh, smile, give me a big hug or share fabulously funny words of encouragement and support. Love you, Mrs. Schmenkman!
♥ One of my other lifelong besties made it to base camp on Mount Everest this week! I’m so grateful that he’s had a safe and exciting journey, and it was such a gift to get an email and photos from him when I woke up yesterday and to know he’s doing well. Can not wait to hear about his amazing adventure when he returns, and wishing him continued safe and peaceful travels.
♥ As a lifelong Red Sox fan, it was a thrill to watch my team win its third World Series championship in less than ten years. But what I’m most grateful for was being able to witness this victory with three of my boys (and text with the fourth), who were finally old enough to follow this awesome team and appreciate the magnitude of this accomplishment. Holding the hand of my biggest Sox fan for the final out—and the giant hug from him that followed—was a delicious treasure. This championship felt different from the two before. As ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark put it so eloquently, “This was a life experience for millions of people. And that’s not something you can say on the final night of every World Series. This one was about a town and a team, about healing the wounded and ending the emptiness of 95 years. And, of course, about the century-old ballpark that never gets old.” Awesome. Grateful.
♥ This week marked the 11th anniversary of my youngest son’s cochlear implant surgery, and we are forever grateful for the gift—the miracle, really—of hearing! Changed his life incredibly.
♥ We cleaned house! Know how stuff piles up in the basement? Well, we keep saying we should sort through it, give some of it away and toss other stuff. But we actually got around to renting a dumpster for a week and doing it! Discovered some treasures, finally parted with things we weren’t ready to part with the last time we cleaned house, and donated loads of clothes, furniture and household goods to people who can really use them (especially winter coats—find out where you can donate coats locally through One Warm Coat). I’m grateful to my family for cooperating, sorting, and shlepping. It’s fantastic to feel organized and know that so many things will bring comfort and cheer to other families.
♥ Best of all, I’m so grateful to have found my beautiful Tree of Life menorah in the bottom of the last box in the basement! It’s my favorite piece of Judaica and a special wedding gift that we enjoyed for many a happy Hanukkah. It got packed in the bottom of a box when we moved six years ago and although we thought we’d dug through everything to find it, I’ve been absolutely heartbroken that we haven’t been able to put our hands on it since. We had reluctantly replaced the menorah with something lovely, but it just wasn’t the same. I thought of my favorite treasure every one of the 48 nights of light we’ve celebrated since. It’s always felt like a special part of our family celebration, so I’m very grateful that we’ll be able to light it in a few weeks!
♥ It was a simple thing. A quiet Friday night at home. A crock of hot, cheesy, homemade onion soup gratinee. A comfy couch. A cute husband and three sweet teenage boys, all in a good mood. It was perfect. I am grateful.