Each night before I go to sleep, I try to think of 10 things that happened during the previous day for which I am grateful.
It’s fairly easy to find 10 things. They aren’t always necessarily big things; more often than not they are small, rather incidental, almost inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Like not running out of gas before making it to the Speedway. Like not getting any bills in that day’s mail. Like having just enough milk to make the recipe I was looking forward to trying. These little events make a big difference in my life by giving me hope and making me smile at the way things so often work out in spite of me and my penchant for worrying. Looking for the little blessings makes me appreciate the big blessings as well.
What’s difficult is having to deal with negative thoughts that try to worm their way into the midst of the gratitude. I’m constantly battling the “yeah, but” demon. You know it, you’ve encountered it yourself: I didn’t get any bills, yeah, but the big whammy will probably come tomorrow. I sent in a job application, yeah, but they probably won’t call me back. What I am learning from the 10 Things discipline is to draw myself away from the contentious contingencies and sad scenarios and stay focused on the positives and possibilities. I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it. There are some nights when the list goes past the designated 10, as I think about friends I saw that day or the laughter I was given from an e-mail or Facebook post or the words that poured out of me that became a story or a blog or a sermon.
There are those in this world who would try to make us all pessimists, make us focus firmly on the dark side of things and pooh-pooh our hopeful, happy outlook. But I know – and I hope you know, too – that there is light in the darkness and there are always good things going on around us. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder to find them, but they are there. So start counting. And if you go beyond 10, that’s good – keep going. See how far you can and will go.