Try this! Name one hundred things you’re grateful for… Can you do it?
When I first ask people that question, they hesitate to respond. One hundred can feel like a massive number and naming one hundred things we’re thankful for can feel overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be easier to name three or four or maybe make a list of ten or fifteen? Sure, it would – but it wouldn’t cause you to dig deep and really think about what you’re grateful for. It wouldn’t force you to think about the little things we see as small or insignificant that we often take for granted.
That’s the point of this question and the challenge I share here every November, the week before Thanksgiving. The exercise is simple. Download the Gratitude worksheet I provide here, print it out, and start working on your list of one hundred things you’re thankful for. Include everything from close family and friends to the sunshine on your face, that good book you just read, or the fact that your wifi that works. The simpler, smaller, and more “insignificant” the things you’re grateful for, the better.
I recently traveled to Nepal, stepping off the grid and backpacking through some remote mountain villages. As I hiked, I was struck by the simplicity of people’s lives and the joy I saw in their faces. Without having much, they were truly grateful. They were generous with their hospitality, everyone giving beyond their means. Their children had no idea how “little” they had by the world’s standards – they played like they were rich. Throughout the trip, I found myself resetting and becoming thankful for the small things… comfortable boots, fresh socks, great friends to hike alongside, Kit Kat bars at lunchtime, and the sunshine on my face.
Sitting in the airport as I traveled back home and reflecting on my time in the mountains, I was reminded that we all have so much to be grateful for in our lives regardless of how “much” we have. The goal is not to accumulate stuff… It’s to accumulate gratitude. I returned truly thankful for family and friends, clean water and modern plumbing, a comfortable place to sleep each night, and food in my refrigerator.
The little things are sometimes the big things.
That was a month ago now. As I slipped back into life at home, I realized something unexpected. It was much easier than I thought to fall back into old habits like complaining or looking at what I don’t have rather than what I do. This experience helped me realize that living a life of gratitude requires us to take time and make time to reflect on what we’re thankful for… not just once a month in November, but all year round.
Start here. Use November and Thanksgiving as a time to fuel your gratitude. Just make sure it’s not the only time… Keep your one hundred reasons where you can see them in January, April, and August – and make gratitude a daily, year-round practice.
Ready for more?
I am thankful for each of you reading this right now! – John