In one How I Met Your Mother episode, the gang spends Thanksgiving with a former classmate. They call him “the blitz” because every time he leaves the room, something amazing happens.
Throughout the show, the curse moves from person to person, causing them to miss out on both little moments and big events. The lesson of the story is that in order to live your best life, first, you have to be there for it — and not just on Thanksgiving.
At one point, Marshall states this directly by quoting Ferris Bueller:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.
There are many specific variants of this advice when it comes to achieving certain goals we have.
We tell people, “Don’t wait for love. Work on yourself, then get out there and choose someone.” We say, “Don’t wait for retirement. You might not have the money or energy to do what you enjoy.” We say, “Don’t wait until January 1st to set your goals. Start working on what matters to you now.”
And yet, when it comes to gratitude, to feel grateful, happy, and fulfilled, we wait for Thanksgiving — maybe Christmas — to roll around before we give that one a go. Why?
The evidence on gratitude is clear. It makes you happier, increases your energy levels, gives you a more positive outlook on the future, and even strengthens your physiological well-being. I don’t know about you, but I want those benefits every day, not just once a year — especially if it only takes a minute to attain them.
What are you grateful for today?
Every day for the past seven years, I have answered this question. Each night, I take a minute to write down three things I’m grateful for. I recommend you start doing the same — today.
You could also write it into a journal or even paper slips and throw them away. The point is not to have your good fortunes stored away somewhere, it’s to make an effort to remember them.
Over the years, doing this exercise has taught me many lessons, but the following three have stuck with me the most:
There’s something good in even the worst of days.
No matter how bad life gets, someone always has it worse than you. On some days, I lay sick in bed, barely able to move let alone leave the house. But even on those days, I found something I could write down.
I would remember what a miracle technology is, allowing me to stay entertained all day. I would appreciate my family caring for me, that I could get great food within a few minutes, or the joyful song of birds as fresh air streamed through my open window.
Gratitude is empowering when you need to feel empowered the most.
It’s the little things matter the most.
On some days, I get really creative with my gratitude. On some days, I write down something I’ve noted dozens of times before. Eventually, I spotted patterns. A lot of items repeat.
Coffee, fresh sheets, a healthy pair of legs, internet access — the things we take for granted are the things we miss the most when they’re gone. Time and again, my practice makes me realize that life really is quite simple, and you don’t need much to feel fulfilled.
Happiness comes from unexpected places.
Taking time to think about what made you happy is a way of extending the happiness you originally felt — but you have to keep your eyes open to see it.
With just 30 seconds of reflection at night, you might realize something great happened in your life that day that you didn’t even spot before. Maybe, a meeting you weren’t looking forward to turned out great or a restaurant you didn’t expect much from is now on your list of favorites.
Gratitude trains you to spot happiness everywhere, and that’s a beautiful thing.
* * *
Writing down three things you are grateful for takes one minute a day.
That’s 365 minutes per year — a little over six hours — or one Thanksgiving afternoon and dinner. One-half day to teach yourself to be resilient, happy with what you have, and to look for joy in any and all places. Don’t “blitz out” on that.
Instead of summoning all your gratitude on one or a few days of the year and then struggling to rekindle that feeling for the rest of it, try this one-minute exercise. Slice your gratitude like a turkey and spread it over the course of 365 delicious days.
Previously published on Psiloveyou.xyz.
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