Gratitude can be hard when life is overwhelming. Even as I write this, my mind is addled by anxiety over a to-do list that just isn’t shortening quickly enough.
But it helps to take a step back from the big-picture rush and recognize small things to be grateful for.
You don’t have to feel amazing about them right now. But little moments of gratitude can help us keep life in perspective and remember what’s most important.
How Daily Gratitude Helps Our Brains
According to John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D. in a Psychology Today article, our brains are naturally more receptive to negativity. It’s easier for negative news and thoughts to stick with us, and more reinforcement is needed to promote positive feelings.
According to the same article, researchers have found marriage is more likely to work if it has five times more positive interactions or negative ones. And that five-to-one number can apply in other areas of life too.
So, with a regular practice of gratitude, we may help train our brains to keep the good stuff in the forefront.
Here are some everyday things to be grateful for—at this moment, right now.13 Ordinary Things to Be Grateful for Today Click To Tweet
1. The clothes you’re wearing.
Think about how much it took to get the fibers of your clothes where they are today. How many people were involved? Where did they begin?
Clothes can be fun, stylish, comfy, and everything in between. We are so lucky to be able to protect and clothe our bodies each day.
2. People who love you.
Relationships can be complicated and life sometimes feels isolating—but you, my dear, are indeed loved. You are worthy of giving and receiving the love that makes you, me, and us human.
Take a moment to feel gratitude for the love in your own life. (This includes pet love, too!)
3. A place to come home to.
It’s easier to forget (or take for granted) just how incredible “home” is.
At the time of writing this, I live with my husband and our three pets in a two-bedroom apartment. It’s not a huge, beautiful house, and it’s probably an interior designer’s worst nightmare, but it shelters the love of my little family. It keeps us cozy in cold weather and cools us in the Texas heat.
I enjoy looking out my window in the middle of the day and appreciating the cool breeze and beautiful trees outside.
No matter where it is or how it looks, to have a place to call “home” at all is such a gift.
4. Food and water.
We are so fortunate in our developed world to have running water right from the tap and eating places around every corner. We can nourish our bodies with foods from all around the world just by visiting the local grocery store or the nearest drive-through.
Being grateful for the smallest conveniences can help put life into perspective. No matter what’s going on, we have access to basic nutrition and hydration. That is truly wonderful.
5. Your next meal.
Meals are often rushed as a necessary inconvenience before getting back to work or life. That’s understandable, but what if we spent a little extra time on one meal today?
Good food is a simple pleasure. Pause during your next meal (or snack) to appreciate its smell, taste, and texture.
6. Whatever is in front of you.
For a moment, take your eyes off the screen you’re viewing this on, and look in front of you:
- Which item are you now looking at?
- How does it hold significance for you?
- What is good about it?
7. Your smartphone.
The Internet is not always great for the mindfulness we need to show gratitude. But it’s an amazing invention all the same.
In the palm of our hands, we can connect with anyone on this planet. We no longer need to wait days, weeks, or even years to see the faces of our loved ones or share ideas. And smartphones are now accessible to just about everyone in the developed world.
To possess a treasure-trove of information and ideas on one screen—that’s a convenience we couldn’t enjoy even 20 years ago.
8. The smallest pleasures.
A cup of coffee or tea. The wind on your face. A smile or compliment from a stranger. Gas in your car. We bypass these moments when gripped by stress, overwhelm, or anxiety. But what is life without taking time to appreciate these little things to be grateful for?
Small moments of beauty encourage us to pause in our busyness—and just be.
9. Your body’s abilities.
Some of us have impeccable health. Others struggle with ailments, either chronic or short-term. But we are all sitting here (or perhaps standing here), living and breathing.
Our bodies allow us to view the world, hear its sounds, give hugs, read poetry, watch Netflix, say “I love you,” move from point A to point B. And through each, we all perceive the world’s output a little differently, through our own bodies. That is extraordinary.
Music, poetry, movies, art. We love to consume these mediums. But personal creativity is often relegated to hobbies or “when you have time.”
I would argue being creative is a part of us. When we let it starve, we extinguish an important part of us.
To me, creativity is one of the greatest things to be grateful for in this life. No other species has the ability to create as we do.13 Ordinary Things to Be Grateful for Today Click To Tweet
11. Your breath.
It’s always there: the ability to breathe.
When I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed, I hold my breath without realizing it. And I’ve found a lot of relief can come from deep, conscious breathing.
Take just a second to inhale, exhale, and repeat.
12. Mistakes (and what you learn from them).
I think many of us spend our lives trying to avoid mistakes. That’s understandable, but to never make a mistake is to not be human—which is impossible. Seeing any mistake as a failure only breeds shame and curtails personal growth.
When we can feel gratitude for mistakes, without judgment, it gives us the ability to actually learn and improve.
What mistakes have you learned from?
13. Those how have helped you get where you are now.
Think of all the people who have supported you, inspired you, and encouraged you throughout your life. We all need help, at some point, to get where we are.
I think about my family who helped me through college and life, my high school English teacher who encouraged my writing (and first introduced me to symbolism), and my husband who emotionally backs me when I’m struggled (which is quite a lot!).
Pause for a moment to appreciate these people.
And lastly, take a breath and commend yourself. You’re here, you’re alive, and no one else is exactly like you. That is one of the most beautiful things to be grateful for.