December is finally here. I feel like I have been waiting on it since March. One of the things that I am really good at is making a list. I love lists. I love to check things off the list. I love to color code my lists. You get the idea. However, as much as I like making lists, I have struggled for years during the month of November. You see, a lot of the people on social media that I am friends with or follow take the month of November to express their gratitude. I have tried this in the past, but always felt like I was falling short of the goal. My friends always had these beautiful things that they were saying and that they were grateful for and I was always feeling like I could come up with a few things that I could write those beautiful words about, then I was grateful for things like coffee and twinkly lights. I just didn’t feel like I could write about being grateful for the little things because it would look petty next to the others.
I then decided that I just wouldn’t do it. I just wouldn’t participate in Gratitude Month (November) because I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t grateful and I didn’t want to leave anyone out. Last year, I just skipped it all. I was grateful for things, I just didn’t post them. Then we got to 2020. It just didn’t feel right to skip listing the things I was grateful for with everything that has been going on in the world. I stewed about it for a little while, and then I received the answer one day while I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Bob Goff.
When I did one of the readings in early November, he talked about a friend of his that started each day by writing the 10 things he was grateful for on that day. I took this idea and ran with it. It made perfect sense because if I was listing 10 things each day, I felt like I was ok having a few of them be the little things. I also thought about how hard this semester has been on myself and all other educators and students. I decided to challenge my students that are currently teachers to write a list of 10 things they are grateful for each day when they got into their classrooms. I also set a goal for myself to do the same thing and to put my list on Instagram by doing a live video every morning when I made my list. For the most part, I have managed to do this almost every day, and it has certainly made a difference. In the reading, one of the things was trying to change the way we think. One example is instead of lamenting how much work we have to do, being grateful that we have a job. I have tried very hard to be grateful for at least one thing per day that I am typically unhappy or complaining about. I can safely say that now, after a couple of weeks of doing this, I am starting to think of things differently.
I have preached to my children and my students for years to choose joy, and while I try to do that there has just been a piece missing. I was still getting upset way too often about things that really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. By trying to flip my thinking, I have found myself finally able to choose joy and mean it. The glass isn’t half empty, I’m just happy to have a glass with something in it. I know that sounds super Suzy Sunshine, and I am definitely not Suzy Sunshine, but I truly mean it. Trying to change the framework in which I think about the things that bother me has been something that continues to bless me.
This semester, and really this year, have been so trying for so many people. It is an easy time for us all to think on the negative side of things. In fact, it is what we have seen happening increasingly all over social media and the news. We are all tired. We are all over being scared of this pandemic. Everybody wants life to go back to normal. I personally just want people to start being kind to each other again. Try making yourself a gratitude list. Not a big one with the big things, but a small one done each morning. Allow yourself to be really grateful for the silly stuff along with the big stuff.