Enjoy the little things for one day you will look back and realise they were the big things

Robert Brault

diary girl hand journal

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When my children were little I followed a local blogger who had similar aged children and each week she posted the little things that had inspired her that week. This in turn inspired me to do the same and I started to look for moments in the week to capture special memories. And these were little things- reading a story, going for a walk or decorating biscuits. These moments helped me to focus on the joy rather than the exhaustion or frustration that was sometimes part of being full time mum to my two tiny boys. I didn’t realise it at the time but this was the beginning of my gratitude practice, which has developed over time. 

I’ve been a huge fan of Oprah since I was a teenager. I’m fascinated by her wisdom, ability to inspire and her love of learning. Recently I’ve been listening to her book The Wisdom of Sundays in which she has collated some of the most inspiring of interviews from her Super Soul Sunday series. In this book Oprah explains how gratitude has been transformative for her:

Gratitude is its own energy field. When you acknowledge and are grateful for whatever you have it allows more to be drawn to you energy to be drawn to you changes the way you experience life. 

Oprah has kept a gratitude journal for over sixteen years and it’s clear that joy comes to her not from the material things but from the little things: walks in nature and time with friends. 

As part of my morning routine I practice Tony Robbins’ priming routine which encompasses visualisation and gratitude. Back in April I attended Tony Robbins’ event Unleash the Power Within and as a member of an audience of 13 000 people I stood with my hands on my heart, feeling grateful for all that I had and recalling the key moments in my life when I know I have been truly blessed. Repeating this practice every day reminds me at the start of each day what I already have. I may then spend the day striving to achieve but starting my day from a place of gratitude means I start from a positive place of appreciation for all that I have. 

Now gratitude is all well and good during morning meditation or when writing in my gratitude journal but more challenging at other times! I caught myself filling up at the petrol station last week with a car full of hungry tired children, clamouring for more snacks and found myself finding the whole process of ploughing through traffic, queuing for petrol and filling up the tank, quite frankly a real drag. But in that moment I managed to catch myself and turn this around. What did I have to be grateful for here? That I was there to pick my children up from school. That I have my own car and the freedom to go wherever I want. That I can fill the tank without having to worry about whether I can afford the petrol. That in ten minutes the children and I would be home. This change of focus shifted my experience from being a chore to a pleasure. When I went to pay for the petrol the attendant asked what had happened that day to make me so happy. Nothing had happened: I had made a choice. 

At the weekend I did a triathlon. In contrast to the incredible weather we’ve had for months, early on Sunday morning it was grey, cold and very wet. The roads were so flooded with water that the cycling was dangerous and as the roads were so water logged we were forced to cycle in the middle of the road. When I got back to transition I couldn’t feel my hands or feet and struggled to undo my helmet. The run was a mud bath and parts were so slippy we were forced to walk. It was tough but again focusing on gratitude helped me to appreciate what my body could do; the camaraderie of the other competitors; the amazingly positive marshals and in spite of the weather the beauty of the surroundings.

If you like the idea of practising gratitude but you’re not sure where to start, I’d suggest starting with a notebook and pen. Challenge yourself at the beginning and end of each day to write down three things that you are grateful for. Try this for 7 days and see how you feel. If you want something more fancy, my lovely friend and coach Kiki has a beautiful gratitude journal. I’m also a huge fan of the Happiness Planner and have used this for several years. 

If you want to try something different or want to get the family involved try using a gratitude jar. All you need is a Kilner jar and a pack of Post Its. Each time something good happens, write it down and pop it in the jar. You can then pull these out later in the year and share the gratitude with each other. 

What are you grateful for today?

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