Hi everyone! Welcome to February, already! Goodness. January was… whew. In my opinion January is weird, seriously. After all of the excitement of the holidays are over, and the hype of the New Year has come and gone I feel a bit like maybe I don’t know what to do with myself at times.
January can be dark, dreary, and very cold. It is here in the northern part of the United States, anyway. At least in December when it’s cold and dark we associate it with snuggles, fuzzy socks and Christmas lights.There’s a certain aesthetic to it. It’s almost as if after the holidays, winter kind of loses its “magic”. We don’t have any more holiday parties, we’re fat, cold, and bored. (Seriously, there’s not a whole lot to do when you’re broke, it’s below zero outside and windy!)
The Gratitude Exercise
One thing I did during the month of January to brighten my mood was write out three things I was thankful for every day. I actually started this tradition last year in January, and enjoyed it so much I continued through February. It really is amazing what it does for the soul when you actually stop and think about all of the things you have to be thankful for. For me it was kind of an attitude adjustment, or a reset button. Not that I necessarily had a bad attitude, but it definitely lifted my mood most days.
Originally I was going to share my three thankfuls every day, but I decided to keep them to myself. It made it more personal, and I think overall a better experience. Also, when I wrote them out I used one document. Let’s just say it became very lengthy, like eleven pages lengthy! My only rule was no repeats.
All Things Thankful
Wow, who knew we had so much to be thankful for!? When I started the January Days of Gratitude exercise I wrote out things I was thankful for like my family, my home, my friends, my job etc… That quickly evolved into something amazing! As time went on throughout the month it really became a time for reflection.
I will take my job for example. My current job is not by any means my dream job. I am thankful for it every day though. It pays the bills, I have steady hours (which is important to me), and the people I work with have become somewhat of an extended family. So even though I am not where I want to be professionally, my life is better because of this job. There are people out there who wish they could get a job.
Other days, when it was extremely cold where I live, I was thankful for the heat in my home. It occurred to me that even though some days it may feel drafty in our old house, some people don’t even have a home, let alone heat. Some people struggle to pay their bills throughout the year. Believe me, we struggle. Sometimes I have to move bills around so that they all get paid, but at least they get paid and we have heat. That is not a luxury some people have, some parts of the world don’t even have access to heat. There is something extremely humbling about that.
I have lots of things on my list that I am thankful for, so these are just a couple examples. (Eleven pages, remember?) I have had so many experiences, good and bad. All of those experiences have accumulated, and left me with this tremendous list and amount of gratitude. Without all of the bad, I don’t know that I would truly be able to appreciate all of the actual good. For that in itself, I am thankful.
Giving Back When I Can
One of the things I wrote down that I was thankful for was the generosity of others. There was a time when I lost almost everything, and a lot of items were given to me or donated to me. I will never ever forget the kindness of those individuals. Because of this, I also give back when I can.
In the past, after going through my closet I would drop off items I don’t wear or use anymore at thrift stores. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE thrift stores but my Days of Gratitude made me realize something. I wanted my donatable items to go to someone who really needed them and didn’t have the means to buy. So, when the kids and I did our clean out in January I contacted my local community closet and donated to them. Our community closet is basically a clothing and homegoods drive. Once they have enough items donated, they set up for a day in a church and allow people to “shop” around to get the items they need. If you are a person in need, you can also reach out to them to let them know what you need and they will do everything in their power to acquire those items.
Being able to do this fills my heart, because as I’ve mentioned – I have been on the receiving end of these donations. I know life happens, and things come up that we can’t control. I can’t donate monetarily, but I will help where I can.
A Time For Reflection
Taking time to reflect on all of these things is extremely powerful, eye opening even. For me, I would say it is equally important. The Days of Gratitude exercise significantly improved my mood during a lot of dark and cold January days. It even motivated me to get up, and clean out some closets! This exercise also helped me realize that I have come so far from where I was. I still have a lot of growing to do, but that will always be the case. Just as we are sure the seasons will change, so will life.
So if you are having a bad day, week, month or couple months, try taking time out of your day and think about the things you are thankful for. Writing them down (or typing them out) helps because you can always go back and read them when you find yourself in another rut. It has helped me several times in the past, and might just help you find the positive outlook you’re looking for. At the very least, it doesn’t take a lot of time, and never hurts to try!
What are some things you are thankful for? Have you ever taken the time to reflect and be thankful for your life, or experiences (whether good or bad) that have impacted your life? What did you learn? Let me know in the comments. 🙂