On the Art of Gratitude
Written by Amanda Handley + Edited by Chelsea DuDeVoire
Wife. Mother. PR Director. Student. Friend. Maid. Cook. Counselor. Nurse. Recruiter.
The list of my roles and responsibilities seems, at times, neverending. There are many days when I feel like I’m kicking ass, taking names, and running shit like a boss. Everyone’s happy, bills are paid, life is good.
There are other days when the exact opposite is true. Days when I collapse on the couch, exhausted, tears streaming down my face because it’s just hard. It’s hard to keep all of the balls in the air, hard to keep all of the plates spinning, hard to keep all of the deadlines met.
On these days, it can be easy to wallow in the pit of self-pity. It can also be hard to pull yourself out of that pit, especially if it’s Monday. Or raining. Or five minutes after your favorite show just ended, and now it won’t be available to re-watch on Hulu until tomorrow. Whatever your one more thing is.
In these moments, the only guaranteed cure I’ve been able to find is gratitude, although sitting around and thinking about the good things in my life has never really been enough. Furthermore, I was always pretty irritated when my husband would say, “Now tell me something good” after I’d just unloaded all the shitty things in my day. Did you not hear me? I told you life is awful.
Oddly enough, I was able to make a real shift in my attitude when I got a new planner last year. In the top left corner of each new week, there is a box for a Thankful Thought. When I first saw it, I thought, That’s cute. I decided to do it because it can’t hurt, right? And maybe it could serve as a nice substitute for actually journaling - because who has time for that these days?
Then, one week, I was having a really tough time. Everything was going wrong, and I felt like I was falling short in pretty much all areas. So I started using the notes section of my planner to add a thankful thought for the day. Some days it was serious: "I’m healthy." Others, it was just being thankful for a coworker’s snarky email that made me laugh, or even for Rice Krispie Treats. Finding that one positive thing and taking the time to physically write it out – not just briefly thinking about it – made a material difference for me.
Now, on my worst days, I’ll write thank you notes. The act of sitting and handwriting a note to someone who has made my life better is one of the most powerful attitude-changers I’ve ever found. It’s damn hard to feel sorry for yourself after you’ve written three thank you notes that focus on the kind and helpful actions of others. An added bonus? In doing so, you're brightening someone else’s day, too. By taking the time to write a brief – but sincere – note to someone else, you move your focus outside of yourself and put it on others. When we do good, we feel good.
The various memes scattered about the internet are right: "adulting is hard." But it’s totally doable. And even on your very worst days, there is something to be grateful for. (Netflix, anyone?) Find the time to be grateful, and make the time to express that gratitude in a way that is meaningful to you. Jot it down in your calendar. Post it on social media. Keep a gratitude journal. Shoot a quick text to a BWH who’s helped or inspired you. You won’t regret it.
Amanda Handley is a graduate of Florida State University and the Public Relations Director at BowStern Marketing Communications. She is passionate about college football, good grammar, and Duke’s mayonnaise. As the wife of a soldier and the mother of two strong-willed girls, she believes the most valuable assets you can have are education and work ethic.
Check out her previous article here.