"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”
After a year and a half in my one bedroom unit, it’s getting a little cramped for me and my greyhound, Daisy. So much so that last year I started browsing property websites, obsessively daydreaming about my next home. How fabulous would it be to upgrade? To get a study or guest room and a nice big yard for Daisy? No more blowing up the air mattress for guests or eating dinner on the couch because my writing desk’s set up in the tiny dining nook.
It’s great to daydream, but fixating on what I didn’t have became a problem.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly normal to have dreams and goals and work towards them… it only becomes an issue when you feel like you won’t be happy until they’re no longer a dream, but a reality.
I recently spent time with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a long time—one of those friends who no matter how long between visits, it feels as if you’ve never been apart. We were catching up on each other’s lives and something she said really resonated. When I told her about my hobbit-sized one bedroom unit (the one I felt I’d outgrown), she was thrilled for me—a smile lit up her eyes. You see, a few years ago I was aimless and frustrated, convinced I’d never own my own home—that I’d be share-housing forever, living with a revolving door of housemates. That I’d never be able to adopt the dog I’d longed for—it’s hard enough to get housemates onboard with your dog, let alone a landlord.
I was living the dream… only I’d forgotten it had ever been my dream at all.
Instead of being grateful for everything I had, I was focused on wanting more.
Big wake-up call!
Things needed to change.
But how? A couple of years ago I noticed a jar on my friend’s bench filled with colorful folded papers. She told me it was her family’s Gratitude Jar. Each week, every member of the family would note down something they were grateful for and put it in the jar. On New Year’s Eve they would remove each note and read it as a family, reflecting on all the wonderful things they had to be grateful for.
I’ve known about the power of gratitude for a long time, but so far I haven’t committed to it. I could acknowledge something wonderful when it happened, but the real benefit comes from recognizing all you have to be grateful for when you feel like you’re missing out.
This year, I decided it was time to shake off my complacency and commit to a regular ongoing gratitude activity. There are so many wonderful ideas out there on how to do this, but as with anything new, it’s important to understand yourself and what’ll work best for you. The Gratitude Jar was my choice—a once a week commitment didn’t seem so challenging. And I was right, finding at least one positive thing per week was easier than I thought.
I hope you’ll consider giving gratitude a chance. Here are a few more ideas to help you let a little extra sunshine into your life.
Write a daily journal entry about what you’re grateful for that day. This could be a great way to start your day on a positive note, or something to do before bed to de-stress for a good night’s sleep.
I’m obsessed with pretty stationery and there are tons of official gratitude journals out there, but you don’t need fancy if that’s not your thing. All you really need is a notebook and pen.
Social media gratitude challenge
Post to your preferred social media site every day, to show what you’re grateful for. This has the added bonus of inspiring others, and being able to discuss the blessings in your life.
And as mentioned before, this is my preferred option for this year. It’s so flexible and at the end of the year you end up with a gorgeous jar of gratitude goodness. I can’t wait to open mine on New Year’s Eve.
For added inspiration, I bought myself a Jamie Oliver jar with a red lid, and lovely bright multi-coloured post-it notes. But all you really need is any kind of container, paper and a pen.
Thank you notes
Say a heartfelt thank you to someone in your life. It could be a different person every day or someone special for a week or a month. Bring them unexpected joy by sending them a card expressing how they better your life and what they mean to you. Pay it forward and you may inspire others to do the same.
You can stick to one, do a mish-mash of them all or find your own way of expressing what you have to be grateful for. No matter what you choose, you won’t regret focusing on the good and bringing more happiness into your world.
And if you can bring more happiness into the world of others, all the better.
Taste of Romance Giveaway - Win one of four $50 Amazon vouchers
My first short story Love Interrupted is part of the Taste of Romance short story anthology by the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild. We're running a photo competition in the lead up to the Valentine's Day release.
To enter, simply upload a photo of something that represents a taste of romance to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and include the hashtag #tasteofromanceread. Full details here.
Lauren James is a country girl at heart. Raised on a small property surrounded by animals, it's no surprise she writes small town romance with lots of love for creatures great and small.
Having failed fabulously at painting, sewing and playing guitar, she finally found her creative outlet in writing strong, quirky heroines, and tough, handsome heroes with gooey animal-loving centers.
Lauren lives on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, with her beloved rescue greyhound, Daisy.