Sometimes it’s just 30 days, other times it’s a whopping 100 days. It’s usually referred to as a gratitude project and the object of it is to pointedly express gratitude for a certain number of days as a way to shift focus to the good things in life. Studies have shown that even the tiniest positive or happy thought has a far-reaching ripple effect on our psyches. It’s why I love videos of naughty cats bopping over-friendly dogs on the head so much. That type of image is a special additive in the fuel that propels me through every day.
What doesn’t seem to work, however, is a forced effort to go through your mental filing cabinet to find the most altruistic things to be grateful for. Turning gratitude into a sort of penance can have the opposite effect. You may become sullen or feel unworthy when you can’t come up with something in your life that is at the Gandhi level of gratitude. You’ve seen those posts on social media. They go something like this: “I’m grateful that India achieved her independence in 1948.”
It’s o.k. if the things you’re grateful for include a co-worker who confessed to you that she signed her name to a group birthday card but didn’t contribute toward the gift. It’s certainly not Gandhi level and you can probably expect the same from her when it’s your birthday, but it was audacious and sassy and your gasp when she told you felt so good. Ready for the season of gratitude to get real? I’ll start: I’m grateful for cinnamon-sugar donuts, binge watching The X-Files on Netflix and rockabilly music.