Sunday, March 1, 2015

Five Years Practicing Gratitude

Five years ago I was cross-country skiing in a nearby park, not feeling grateful about it, and overall fed up with the lack of gratitude in my life.

In the quiet space that sometimes comes through exercise or time in nature, I was reminded of two things.  The first - daily gratitudes, something that I’d heard mentioned by various people over the years including Oprah Winfrey.  The second - a friend’s suggestion that I write a blog. “What would I possibly write about?” I had asked.

That day I had the answer.  My original goal was one month, five gratitudes a day, and no repeats.   After the month I had no desire to stop, though I didn’t always want to be on the computer.  So with time I switched to writing mostly in my journal, posting once a week.  

On March 1st, 2015 I will reach my 5 year anniversary.  At some point this summer I’ll hit 10,000 gratitudes.  How does it change one’s life to find 10,000 things to be grateful for?  

It would be interesting if there was a parallel Tammy whose life did not include that practice and we could look at what she’s doing.  More importantly, if we could look at what she is thinking.  Climbing into my bed recently while the winter wind howled outside I thought, “I am so wealthy.”  But more importantly than the thought, I felt wealthy.  This happens fairly often.  In part I’m sure because I am largely shielded from the consumer culture and messages that we are bombarded with.  However in another part, I think it is my gratitude practice. Having to find 5 things I am blessed by every day for 5 years begins to have a cumulative effect.  When I see a single brown leaf blown across the snow out the window as I am washing dishes, I feel wealthy.  When I am boarding a bus on a cold day and easily have enough money to pay the fare, I feel wealthy.  When I have a clean bathroom to use, or access to a clean bathroom at the store or a restaurant because I am “a paying customer,” I feel wealthy.  Not all the time, but more than I used to.

The most surprising thing about this to me is that the gratitude practice has been a writing practice.  I wasn’t thinking about this at all initially, but I do love to write, and like any skill it takes practice.  I’ve always written regularly, but now I’m writing every day, even if it is just five sentences.  They also still have to be specific and unique enough to pertain to today only.

I’m sure I’ve broken that rule a few times, especially in the beginning.  As I have forgotten to write my gratitudes a few times, which just meant the next day I’d remember and write 10.

Also being able to share this practice with somone who reads these posts has been a gift.  In some ways it is an offering of the best parts of myself.  

So extra thanks to Jill who suggested I write a blog, and my mother who was always active outdoors in the winter and put me on cross-country skis as a child, the park where this thought came to me, the lack of gratefulness that led to this idea, to Stephanie my long-time most encouraging reader and lastly to myself for making this practice a priority in my life, and for setting aside this time, right now, to acknowledge that.


  1. 5 years eh... that means that we 'know' each other for 5 years too... incredible...

    I think, if you hadn't practiced gratitude in one way or another, that little by little you may have become numb to what's around you and what's inside you. I have the impression that is what happens.
    Because in order to feel gratitude, you first need to be conscious of what happens around you, of what you have.

    So... Congratulations
    and Hurray
    and "Many more"
    and thank YOU, for writing your gratitudes.
    They are always something I look forward to.

    Whenever I think the whole world has become one superficial, consuming herd of sheep, I think of you. And know it isn't so.


  2. Stephanie, Your last paragraph brought tears to my eyes because it is the absolute truth.