One Year, One Daily Habit: The Unexpected Game-Changing Benefits

goal setting habits Sep 27, 2023
Habit transformation

We've all heard the saying, "It's the little things in life." Yet, how often do we really pause to appreciate those tiny moments? A smile from a stranger, a first-row parking spot, or even the beauty of a setting sun? A little over a year ago, I decided to experiment with one daily habit – a gratitude practice. Now, 365+ days later, I'm amazed at the transformative effects it has had on my life, especially the ones I didn’t see coming.

It all started because I was scrolling through my phone and looking through the thousands of pictures I had taken and wishing I had a better way to document my days and the many experiences I had. I stumbled across an image diary app that allowed me to tag pictures to specific days and make notes about the day.  Now I’m generally not a “journaling” person but had repeatedly read about the benefits of having a gratitude practice so I decided to give it a try. Each night, before I would go to bed, I would tag a few pictures from the day to the app and write a handful of things that went well that day that I was thankful for.  All in all, it took less than 5 minutes each night.

During the first few weeks I didn’t notice any change. I just had a nice and easy way to document what I did each day. After a couple of months, however, I noticed that I started looking for things during the day that I could write down later that evening. I started to notice the little moments that were positive throughout the day and made a mental note to jot them down that night. On days when I was feeling down, I found myself going back through my journal entries and reading back through some of the highlights of all that I had to be thankful for.

Now I knew the transformative effects that having a gratitude practice was “supposed” to have as I have read a significant amount of research on this topic. But beyond the science, it was the intangible changes that blew me away.  Here are some of changes I noticed over the year:

Enhanced Perspective: As I mentioned, there were days when everything seemed to go wrong. Previously, I would've been stuck in that negative spiral. But with daily gratitude, even on the toughest days, I found silver linings. I was also able to easily access a list of everything I had to be thankful for along with corresponding images. This habit reframed my perspective and also enabled me to more easily get through challenging days.

Deeper Connections: Sharing moments of gratitude brought me closer to those around me. I started noticing and appreciating the efforts people made, leading to more profound, more meaningful connections.

Mindfulness and Present-Moment Focus: This daily gratitude practice helped me become more present. I found myself looking for and noticing all that was positive instead of worrying about what might happen in the future or dwelling in the past.

A Sense of Fulfillment: Over the months, I realized I felt more fulfilled. It wasn't about the big achievements but the accumulation of little moments and appreciating them that resulted in a higher level of satisfaction. 

Better Mood: I found that I was generally a happier person with a more positive outlook.  I can't say for certain, but I'm sure this also impacted the quality of my relationships as I was more pleasant to be around.

Unexpected Luck?: Now, this might sound superstitious, but during this year, I also felt luckier. Opportunities seemed to come my way more frequently. Was the “universe” reciprocating my positive energy? Or was it just that my mindset allowed me to recognize and seize these opportunities? Either way, it felt magical.

Looking back, it’s mind-blowing to me how such a simple practice could result in such profound changes. Taking out just a few minutes daily to jot down or reflect upon things I was thankful for created ripples of positivity throughout my life.

If you're on the fence about starting a gratitude practice, I encourage you to give it a go. Perhaps, like me, you'll find game-changing benefits you didn’t see coming. One year, one daily habit. It's a commitment, but the rewards are more than worth it. 🌟

If you're interested in the science or the "why" behind having a gratitude practice has positive impacts or other high-performance strategies, I would encourage you to join our free 'Better Every Day' program.

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