Gratitude

The quest to find happiness and meaning in life is not new. Whether we pursue it consciously or not, most of us are constantly searching for happiness, and as a result we direct our words and actions accordingly. One of the reasons I initially became obsessed with bucket lists was because I knew I could find a great sense of satisfaction in ticking off each item on my list, though it be a momentary happiness. Fortunately, one of my close friends introduced me to a different approach of seeking out happiness about six months ago, one that really made an impact on my life.

Rather than focusing on saying or doing things to bring happiness, this new approach focuses on looking at the world with a new pair of eyes and concentrating on things that already bring happiness. Though she never used the word ‘gratitude’ directly, she showed me how she was living a life of appreciation by keeping a list of simple things that made her happy. She was living with such respect and reverence for life that it almost made me jealous. So as I studied her strategy, I did my best to approach each day with a sincere “thank you” poised on the lips. I compiled a small list of my own, constantly looking out for small reasons to be grateful on a day to day basis. From what I learned, our attitudes also operate somewhat like magnets. We’re pulled in the direction of our thoughts, whether they’re positive or negative. As the sun makes ice melt, gratitude caused much of my animosity, hostility, and bitterness to evaporate. I also learned that everything can be taken from a man, except for one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances.

I’m giving you the beginning of my list in hopes that you will find, as I did, that happiness comes from noticing and enjoying the little things in life. My list extends into the thousands now so if you would like to have the rest of the list, please email me at alexwagman@utexas.edu. I often flip through this collection myself as a reminder to be more grateful, or to give myself a reason to cheer up. It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or whether you are experiencing intense hardship, because with these small blessings there will always be something to give thanks for. I hope that you will see, as I did, that by studying little things, we attain the art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible. “Every good and perfect gift” is already yours; it’s only awaiting your recognition.

      

                    Gratitude List

 

1.      Witnessing the winning touchdown first-hand

2.      Playing hooky to do something you don’t ordinarily have time for

3.      Returning to your warm bed after getting up in the middle of the night to pee

4.      The first scoop out of a jar of peanut butter

5.      Arriving at the destination just as a great songs ends on the radio

6.      Perfectly toasted toast

7.      A “where did you get that?” item

8.      High-fiving babies

9.      The last pickle in a jar that resists being captured

10.   The universal French fry-sharing policy

11.   Grabbing a tissue at the last second before sneezing

12.   The moment on vacation when you forget what day of the week it is

13.   The sound of a solid crack from a good break in billiards

14.   Going for a “walking meal,” and stopping for different courses along the way

15.   Bobbing in an old inner tube lazily down a river

16.   That one square in the waffle that’s the most loaded with butter and syrup

17.   Health, love, wealth, and time to enjoy them

18.   Americanisms

19.   When your plugged up nostril just suddenly opens up with no warning

20.   That separate compartment in your stomach for dessert

21.   Finally getting a piece of food that’s been stuck in your teeth all day

22.   When you’re really tired and about to fall asleep and someone throws a blanket on you

23.   Hot cream and a straight razor on your neck at the barber shop

24.   Blowing your nose in the shower

25.   Wearing underwear just out of the dryer

26.   Helping a child find unexpected ways of playing with household objects

27.   Butter on every bite

28.   Sliding back and forth in the bathtub to mix the too-hot water with the cooler water

29.   Knowing all the answers to a game show while confined to your living room

30.   Getting the answer you want from the magic 8 ball

31.   A three-year-old’s imagination

32.   Drive-in movies

33.   Windshield wipers keeping time to the song on the radio

34.   An unexpected “yes”

35.   Just happening upon a parking spot in the right place at the right time

36.   The first sip of a coke

37.   Party sounds behind a door you’re about to open

38.   A bed left guiltlessly, spontaneously unmade

39.   Back doors: the ones best friends enter by

40.   Handcuff-size onion rings

41.   The position of your head as you bite into a taco

42.   Using the dog to remove crumbs on the floor

43.   The do-something-you-haven’t-done-in-years plan

44.   Walking barefoot on the golf course

45.   The moment at a restaurant after you see your food coming from the kitchen but before it lands on the table

46.   Squeezing one more brushful out of the toothpaste tube

47.   Stars and stripes

48.   Smell of freshly cut grass

49.   Waking up and realizing its Saturday

50.   Waiters and waitresses who bring free refills without asking

51.   Sleeping in new bed sheets

52.   Being unreasonably happy

53.   One of those lucky days when there is a ton of stuff in the refrigerator

54.   Digging a hole in the mashed potatoes to keep the gravy in

55.   Hitting a bunch of green lights in a row

56.   A basket of tender, flaky, fresh-from-the-oven biscuits

57.   Crossing something dreaded off a list of things to do

58.   Sunshine pouring down through the overhanging branches of a grand old oak

59.   Places heavy with history

60.   Cocooning in a blanket

61.   Savoring a lake by canoe

62.   People-watching from a park bench

63.   Strangers you see so regularly that you feel they’re almost friends

64.   Riding  a motorcycle on the open road

65.   Eating a free sample of something you have no intention of buying

66.   The sound of ice cubes cracking in a drink

67.   The smell of the coffee isle in the grocery store

68.   Sleeping naked

69.   Picking the perfect nacho off someone else’s plate

70.   The art of knowing what to overlook

71.   Putting potato chips on a sandwich

72.   A Texas flag flying

73.   The first weekend back to college

74.   Catching the breeze in a hammock

75.   A reawakened curiosity about nature

76.   Sitting in the kitchen with your hands wrapped around a cup of coffee

77.   Starting a relationship with a feeling of wonder at the uniqueness of the other person

78.   Beating the odds

79.   When that first cup of coffee kicks in

80.   Feeling the heat of the sun while sitting in a cold car

81.   Spontaneous road trips

82.   Eating dessert first

83.   Sleeping on the porch in the summer

84.   Free concerts in the park

85.   Diving headfirst into the ocean

86.   21st century explorers

87.   Sun-drenched houses overlooking a bay

88.   Tasting a dish while it’s cooking

89.   Acclimating oneself to a cold swimming pool, one body region at a time

90.   When all of those little stringy things come off with the banana peel

91.   The groceries staying upright when your car turns a corner

92.   Three-day weekends

93.   Going to sleep with a line through every item on the to-do list

94.   Leaving spaces in your day to do something spontaneous

95.   Going out on a Saturday night and coming home sober, having had a great time

96.   Answer pages in the back of textbooks

97.   Effective stress management

98.   Sunday naps

99.   A wont-leave-you-hungry meal

100.  Nightlife in Austin, Texas

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7 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. Pingback: 9 ways to make someone really happy and connected to you | Free psychology

  2. Lovely, insightful post. Your friend does know how to live life and this has given me a wonderful idea to make amy own “things that make me happy” list for reference. Thanks a lot!

  3. I love your outlook on life. I have a bucket-list too. such a great idea for a blog. I’ll be sure to follow along and watch you accomplish all these things.

    Samantha (:
    barefootinthewood.blogspot.com

  4. I just found your blog and I think it’s absolutely wonderful. I loved this post and while reading your list almost all of them brought a smile to my face because I know that feeling of happiness when you get the first spoonful of peanut butter from a new jar. Wonderful. I love it.

  5. I am a highschool student in california and I just found your blog and i have become obsessed. when I read this post i decided to start a gratitude list of my own and it has allowed me to appreciate so many things about my life that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. thank you so so much

  6. Pingback: It’s a Liebster Double Whammy! | The Bucket List Project

  7. Hi there! I really enjoy your blog, and hope that you’ll accept the Liebster Nomination I’ve given you. For my nomination of you I’ve linked to this page. You can link back to me to see what it’s about, but whether you decide to accept or not, know that I look forward to your future posts!

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