Joel has a gratitude journal. He also owns a drop saw and has a black belt in Aikido so he’s totally tough as well, obviously. Each night, he jots down a few things he is grateful for regarding his day and it supports him in his quest for richer, bigger, happier living.
There’s no doubt that being grateful is a central concept to experiencing greater happiness. I am happiest when I am most thankful, and I am most thankful when I am aware of my surroundings and what it is about this very moment that makes me feel content. Like the sound of rain against my window. Like the sound of Bon Iver drifting through my ears. Like drinking icy cold water. Like the new bra I’m wearing and how I can barely even feel it. Translation – Heaven.
I remember writing this in an old blog post:
If I asked Ella to explain gratitude – and she could talk of course – I’m pretty sure she’d be stumped. But if I asked her to tell me what her favorite thing about today was, she’d pause and a smile would creep across her face, and then she might begin by describing how good the ocean felt on her toes this morning when she took her first step into the shell-flecked water. How much she loved plucking strawberries straight off the vine and plopping them right into her mouth. How her dad made her laugh. How much she loved seeing baby chickens at the show. How good the strawberry ice cream tasted.
The thing is, it’s so much easier to practice gratitude when we realize that – at its core – all it requires us to do is to list our favourite things of each day. The things which made us happy. “What are you grateful for?” becomes then, not a pressure-filled and loaded question requiring something monumental to have happened. Furthermore, it does not ignite an impersonal and generalized response like, “I’m grateful for my health” (although of course, that is certainly something to be thankful for). “What are you grateful for?”, to me, is really just another way of saying, “What was your favourite thing about today?”. What Made You Happy? And I can work with that. That means something to me.
I’ve always believed it’s an important habit to get into – practicing gratitude – but it has to work for you. You have to find a practical medium to document your thankful things – and for me, a gratitude journal wouldn’t quite do the trick. I’d forget to write for a couple of days. I’d feel pressure – at the word “gratitude” – to come up with something good. Me? I like photos. Instagram has become a powerful tool for me to capture a couple of happy, favourite things of each day – a ritual which, when scrolled back upon – I feel greater happiness in remembering small moments I – days later – would have forgotten.
Anyway, all this is to say, I’ve decided to embark on a little photo challenge in February.
And I’m inviting you to join me.
The 28 Favourite Days Project.
For each of the 28 days in February, we will take a photo of one thing that made us happy that day. One of our little favourite things or a little favourite moment. Our morning coffee. A pair of cute shoes. The book we are reading. A sunset. Swishy skirts. A quote we read. A freshly baked cake. Smooshy morning bed cuddles with a child or pet we love. There are so many things to love when we stop to actually notice them.
I love the extra, deeper parts of life I see because of the photos I take, and this project is also a great experiment to encourage you to get behind (or in front of!) your camera more often in order to see more, too.
Post your picture on Instagram and if you’d like to share your small, favourite thing, use the hashtag #28favouritedays so we can all find happiness in your happies, too. You can tag me (@theredtent) as well, to make sure I don’t miss it. Or, make a little Facebook album titled 28 Favourite Days and upload your picture into it each day. Again, to share it with the rest of us, upload it to The Red Tent’s Facebook wall, or tag The Red Tent in each photo.
February will be a good month. It will be a month full of favourite days.