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09-23 Getting to Know Leah Hammond, author of RISKY LIES

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Gift of Gratitude

"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.”
Frederick Keonig

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.

Brilliant idea!

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.

Gratitude journal
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.

Gratitude Jar
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.

Good luck!


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.

You can contact Lauren via her websiteFacebook or Twitter.



11 comments:

Diana McCollum said...

Love the idea of a jar full of gratitude!! I hope you and Daisy find your dream home this year! I will check out the contest , thanks.

Lauren James said...

Thank you, Diana. Good luck with the contest!

Sarah Raplee said...

Loved your post, Lauren! I'll talk to my husband about doing a Gratitude Jar together. I've found a gratitude journal to be a wonderful tool for resetting my perspective.

I like that this is a photo contest!

Sarma Burdeu said...

I so agree with you Lauren. I have a journal but don't always write every day but I do try to just be aware every day of something to be grateful for. It's not always a big thing but even things like fir example this morning is such a beautiful morning bc it's summer but it's not hot (I hate hot), or the lovely hydrangeas outside my window. Just be aware of what you have ��

Lauren James said...

Sarah, I hope you the gratitude jar. I think I'll move on to the journal next year.

Sarma, I love that you're able to focus on the little things. It's so important and something I'm working on every day.

Michelle Somers said...

I so love this concept, Lauren!

A couple of years ago, my kids and I did a gratitude jar for a year and it was fabulous. This year we each have a little diary, and every night before we go to bed we choose one special thing that happened during the day and write it inside.
I love the idea of teaching young minds to be thankful for what they have. Unfortunately, without consciously being grateful, it's so much easier to focus on the negative.

Good luck with your gratitude journey.

Michelle

Joanne Dannon said...

What a lovely post Lauren :) Yes, I agree, it's really important to remember gratitude in our day to day lives, even if it's a small thing.

Lauren James said...

Michelle, I love that you share this with your kids. It's great to get them in that mindset from a young age.

Thanks, Joanne. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Barb said...

I have started a gratitude jar. Thank you for reminding me that good things happen all the time if we take the trouble to look.
I won the first $50 in the competition. It is the second piece of coloured paper to go into the jar. Loving this whole Romancing the Genre, you guys blog some great stuff.

Lauren James said...

Congratulations on winning the first prize, Barb! I'm so pleased you enjoyed my blog post and the Romancing the Genres blog in general.

Judith Ashley said...

Lauren, I've had the practice of writing 3 Gratitudes each morning along with 2 things I love about myself. Then each night I pick up my Gratitude Rock, next to my pillow, and while holding it, remember at least ONE thing I'm grateful for. I don't know what my life would be like if I didn't have this practice.

Since I type the morning Gratitudes out, I can go back several years and reread what I was grateful for 'back then'. Any reminder to focus on what's going right in our world helps us handle/deal with challenges.