This post is part of a 5-part series that I lovingly called my “Getting my Sh*t Together Series” where I dive into the 5 areas of my life that have helped me establish the foundation of my life outside of work so that I can focus on going above and beyond in my day job and passion projects. Check out the intro here, and sign up for emails to know when the next deep-dive posts are live.
When it comes to knowing what’s best for me, I have a handful of principles to share: define your own fun, develop a gratitude practice, define core values, and realize that no one can make your best decision. This got lengthy, so I made it a mini-series.
Part 2: Develop a Gratitude Practice
In essence, a gratitude practice is the repeated, intentional process of feeling thankful for your life.
The application takes many forms, but at its root, a gratitude practice builds a habit of looking for the good and being grateful for it. I began with a gratitude practice (a la Rachel Hollis), where you write down 5 things you’re grateful for that happened in the last 24 hours. It can and should be tiny things from my day — a meeting that went well, sunshine after a streak of rainy days, testing out a new recipe that turned out well, an unexpected text from a friend. The idea is that you begin to look for these tiny moments and feel grateful for them, and that practice is integrated into your life.
In doing this, I noticed two things about my daily gratitude:
- I felt happier and more content overall, even on days that were tough
- I paid attention to the items that showed up repeatedly, and then intentionally sought them out — similar to the concept of the Joy List below
The next step I took in this vein was compiling a “Bliss List” — these are distinct moments in my life that are powerful memories of pure happiness and bliss. For example, a particular moment kayaking on Lady Bird Lake in Austin, TX alongside my boyfriend, taking pictures of my family and seeing their eyes light up at the picture, and a special “tummy time” request from my young nephew who wanted some snuggles, so I held him belly-to-belly for nearly an hour. When I need a boost, I recall these very specific memories and soak in all the gratitude and happiness.
As I created my Bliss List, I noticed some patterns: unhurried connection with loved ones, time on or near the water, drinking coffee or sharing a home-cooked meal to name a few. I took these themes and created yet another list: a joy list.
The Joy List outlines activities I can do that I know will bring me joy, and I can use this list to intentionally create joyful moments in my life. For example, whenever I am traveling to stay with either of my parents, I always plan to have as many mornings with them as possible; drinking morning coffee and chatting with my coffee mate is one of my activities that brings me joy every single time. I also love being on and near bodies of water; it does some sort of magical soothing for my soul. When I can, I seek out the water. I love taking pictures of people I love and giving them the gift of a beautiful photo of themselves is always joyful to me, so I never hesitate to pull out my phone or camera to capture a special moment.
With my Gratitude Practice, Bliss List, and Joy List, I am equipped and empowered to craft a happy and joyful life that is true to me.