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Try this quick and simple act of gratitude that has been proven to help make us happier. You might be surprised how easy it is once you get in the groove.
Big changes start with small steps. While I firmly believe in this mantra, it’s not one I’ve been particularly good at executing. When I have a new idea, I dive in (and don’t necessarily finish). When I see a big project, I don’t naturally think to break it down into small steps and goals.
Lately though, particularly after some large projects at work required me to do this, I’ve been learning to make this a practice and better appreciate the impact a continuous and committed series of small steps can achieve. When repeated, an extra 30 minutes of sleep each night, a few extra minutes of fitness each day, or a handful of more wholesome food choices adds up to a big benefit to our overall well-being.
A year or two ago, we read a book about happiness as part of a team-building exercise at work. Among so many other great nuggets, the author discussed how thanking others and actively acknowledging the things in our lives for which we are grateful makes us happier. This may be in the form of a gratitude journal, thank you notes, daily phone calls to friends and family, or so many other ways. But just the act of consciously recognizing the things for which we are grateful makes us truly happier (and the author has research to back up his claims).
Sending a text, writing a quick thank you note, or jotting down something for which we are grateful doesn’t seem, by itself, like much of a meaningful activity. When we add up all those small acts, however, we make a material impact on our attitude and gratitude.
Such is the case with our health too (and it’s something about which I have to constantly remind myself when I’m contemplating whether or not to eat an extra cookie or squeeze in a quick 20 minute workout). Leading a healthier lifestyle by being more active and eating more wholesome food happens in a series of small steps and decisions.
Always on the hunt for simple and sustainable ways to make better choices, I recently tried Well Yes!® soups. I’m terrible about eating lunch, so when I landed on this quick and easy option that could be a staple in my cabinet, I was pretty pumped. With no artificial flavors or colors, non-BPA lined cans, and real ingredients you can actually read in Well Yes! flavors like Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice, Chicken Noodle, and Hearty Tomato with Roasted Barley, these seemed right up my alley.
I purchased those three flavors, but they have a whole line up of flavors including:
Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice | Chicken Noodle | Tomato Carrot Bisque
Minestrone with Kale | Black Bean with Red Quinoa | Hearty Tomato with Roasted Barley
Italian Vegetable with Farro | Hearty Lentil with Vegetable | Sweet Potato Corn Chowder
Butternut Squash Apple Bisque | Chickpea & Roasted Red Pepper
Cajun Red Bean & Vegetable | Braised Beef & Mediterranean-Style Wedding Soup
Inspired by the happiness book I mentioned, I’ve been wanting to try the ‘thank you’ challenge the author described. I’m thankful for so many of the people in my life, and share my appreciation far less often than I should. Surely I don’t have to make up reasons to thank them; I just need to be more proactive about expressing the thanks I think in my head.
I set out to do a 30 Thanks in 30 Days challenge about a year ago whereby I send a quick note, text, card, or call to say thank you to someone every day for 30 days. I failed miserably. It felt unnatural and forced; I hated it.
Yet I love the idea of it.
This month, I finally said yes, and I set out to try the challenge again. I feel terrible saying it, because being thankful and expressing gratitude should be easy. But it was hard, especially at the beginning. It felt a little awkward. I didn’t know what to say. Would it sound forced?
Determined to do it this time, I tracked my daily notes of gratitude that I shared with family and friends. I didn’t do one every day, but I completed 30 in 30 days and really liked the journey. It definitely got much easier along the way.
My notes of thanks weren’t long and never took more than a few minutes. Sometimes they were about recent events and other times more general notes of thanks about our relationship or a person’s role in my life.
Being more keenly aware of and actively acknowledging the things in my life for which I am grateful was really nice! It’s something I don’t want to forget to do just because the 30 days are done.
Because I’m not always so great about eating lunch while I work from home, I sat down with a bowl of Well Yes! Roasted Chicken with Wild Rice soup, a small baguette and an apple (one of my favorite things for lunch). I took a few minutes to make my quick lunch and ate while I wrote my thank you note for the day (this one to my sister).
So it was, I marked one more day on my chain of gratitude and one more day fueled by a wholesome lunch. They’re just little changes, but when added up, they become something so much bigger.
If you haven’t tried being more intentional about showing gratitude, give it a shot. The first few days, it might seem a little awkward, but you’ll get in a groove faster than you think.
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