“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” Harold Kushner 

I wrote earlier this month about my word of the year, gratitude. To really incorporate gratitude as a part of daily life requires practice. My hope is to examine some aspect of gratitude every month and to write about what my exploration has taught me.  In January I paid close attention to what caused irritation in my daily life. Deeply rooted in routine, I dislike any interruptions that may startle my everyday certainty. My morning routine centers around the mundane : an early morning run, emptying the dishwasher while I smell the wisps of coffee brewing, and taking my daughter to school. These three things feed my momentum for the remainder of the day. Over the last few weeks, my morning runs, due to various reasons, were sporadic. My equilibrium shifted. Rising to the surface were feelings of annoyance and irritability.

During these flickers, I consciously attempted to shift my energy toward gratitude. In reality, I possessed choices. For those weeks when I failed to run in the morning, opportunity to do so existed in the evening. I chose not to pursue that option. When I realized that epiphany, I understood the power of really understanding how gratitude works. Suddenly the litany of various irritations became an exercise of looking closely and deciding how the element of gratitude is present in every situation. To reinforce my committment, I decided to list in my journal at least three things that provided me with the most gratitude. Some of my observations included: kisses from my daughter, reading a good book, the warmth of my blanket from Jaipur, sunrises, sunsets, writing a lyrical sentence, hearing my mom or sister’s voice on the phone, watching Lincoln with my husband, Junior Mints, US magazine, reading a Thank You card from a friend, and perusing the shelves of my favorite bookstore. These ordinary and everyday occurrences fill me up in ways that overshadow the minor irritations. Part of really sinking into gratitude is to embrace it and know that it exists. For me, knowing exists in writing. I wrote my list, read it, and revisited it during the month. Did the annoyances and irritations disappear? No. Living means that bad days and painful moments will occur. Gratitude offers a way to navigate the gulf between sadness and happiness. And I am convinced that it involves reminding yourself everyday what feels fulfilling and joyful to you.

For the first time in this space, I’ve decided to sponsor my own giveaway. Leave me a comment and list at least one thing you are grateful for today. On Monday, after a random drawing from the comments,  I will gift one person this Gratitude journal.