Gratitude: Noticing and Appreciating the Little Things in Life

Published on
April 27, 2020
Time to read: 
Rock with painted word Hope
Image of a rock painted white with a border of red hearts and blue dots surrounding the word "Hope." The brown metal at the top of the image is the bottom of one of the community mail box legs directly above the rock. The rest of the image is gravel.

Are you finding dealing with our “new normal” difficult? Do you have a hard time being motivated to “be productive?” Are you frustrated because others seem to be having an easier time than you?

Shortly after Ontario declared a state of emergency, my husband and I had a conversation about people’s reactions. His insight was that coping was easier for me than many others, because I’ve been working from home for years. I was already used to working on my own, and meeting self-imposed deadlines. We’ve talked about how COVID-19 is affecting people several times since then. I’ve also had lots of time for self reflection.

This post shares a practice that may help you. I know it’s helped me throughout my life. It helped when I failed out of university. It helped when I was figuring out what I wanted to do after retiring from the military. Now it’s helping me deal with the unexpected reality of living through a pandemic.

Gratitude is something that anyone can practice. Is life perfect? Rarely. Is there something we can be grateful for? Yes! There is always something that we can be grateful for. Even if its something small.

When I failed out of university as an Engineering student on a full scholarship, with pay and guaranteed employment upon graduation, I had to figure out what to do next. I was grateful to the military for offering me the chance to repeat my academic year, and for offering me the opportunity to change majors which also meant a change in military occupations. I was grateful for my friends who helped me brainstorm what military occupations and academic programs were best suited to my strengths. I was grateful that I had an entire weekend to figure out what I wanted to do. I chose business administration for my new major and the military occupation that eventually became known as Logistics, Human Resources. I was grateful when the military approved my choices.

Retiring from the military was one of the few things that made me feel anxious. I wasn’t really sure what I should do, other than I wanted to: earn some money, volunteer more in my community, and be present in my children’s lives. My wise husband said “What’s your perfect job? What do you enjoy doing? Start there.” I’m grateful that he asked those questions. I’m grateful for my military career, and the skills and knowledge I gained, that helped me start a business I continue to enjoy.

Right now, I’m grateful that my family and I are relatively healthy. That we live in a safe home, with potable water, indoor plumbing, electricity and internet. I’m grateful that I have a military pension, which covers our basic family expenses. I’m grateful for the trees and wildlife I can see out my windows. I’m grateful my family members are keeping themselves occupied.
I’m also grateful for the little things, things that bring a smile to my face, like the painted rocks decorating the ground underneath our mailbox. The rocks in the pictures accompanying this blog, were my inspirations this week. I smile every time I pass by the mailbox, because I know the rocks are there. I’m grateful for the grocery store staff, keeping the stores clean and well stocked, so I say “thank you.” I tell others what makes me happy on social media posts. Sometimes I even pick up a pen and a journal and write down things I’m grateful for. I find that focusing on the things I can be grateful for helps me keep a positive mindset and get through tough times.
I encourage you to practice gratitude too.  Start with the little things. Notice what is going right in your world. It could be loved one’s smile or voice, a flowering plant, a good book or a funny video. Notice what you’re grateful for, say “thank you” and if you’re so inclined, write it down.

I would be grateful if you shared what you’re grateful for in a comment.