The only things that any of us do with extreme regularity are actions that have become habits.
Over 10 years ago a group of business acquaintances, friends really, began a daily email chain with the sole purpose of sharing with each other what they were grateful for that day. The group quickly became known as the grateful group — My Grateful Group.
The group has seen a few members come and go and has fluctuated in size from about 10–14 people, always with the same founding core. Members of the group are spread across the country, from rural Wisconsin to New York, to Florida and every where in between. We are men and women, married and single. Business owners and employees. Democrats and Republicans. And what we all have in common — a daily practice of gratitude.
Making Gratitude A Habit
There are not too many things in life that I can boast that I do every day. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the only things that any of us do with extreme regularity are actions that have become habits. And that is exactly what My Grateful Group has become — a habit. By making gratitude a priority we have created a habit of the practice of finding at the very least a short list of things to be grateful every day.
Each morning a member of the group will begin the email chain. There is no designation or order to the initiation of the chain, it just happens. Because it’s a habit. Tammy, a group member describes it this way, “It’s a consistent reminder that being grateful is just … better. It demands that I think about this every day and form habits around these thoughts. And, it’s fun.”
The beautiful thing about creating a habit of thinking about and articulating gratitude every day is that it stays with us as we go about our day. Grateful group member Jackie puts it this way, “The grateful group/emails remind me to stop and reflect on all the joy in my daily life. The longevity of the group has made gratitude easier to notice with both my conscious and subconscious mind and it is easy to see the positive in everything. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. The practice is now habit and I’ll even stop and be grateful in other moments throughout the day.”
Impact On Our Mental Health
We all know that practicing gratitude has positive effects on our day. But it goes so much further than that. “Gratitude is fundamental to good mental health” says group member Ed. “Like any exercise… if you do it often, you get stronger. Who does not want to have stronger mental health? With peer group participation it becomes more likely you will show up. This group is amazing in providing that support.”
It’s Not About The Big Things
I used to be surprised when I would hear people struggle to find things in their life to be grateful for. They tend to think they need to find big exciting things to be grateful for. I know practicing gratitude takes commitment and intention. It’s not at all about the big things. Those are fun, but the day to day simple things are what are really worth paying great attention to.
Group member Steve shares, “I value the uplifting positive examples of gratitude from each member in the group. Some of these are no-brainers and I am grateful for that too, like your 86 year old parents being careful. Others are things that I took for granted like Jackie’s creamer for her coffee. I would have never thought to be grateful for a commodity, yet when she wrote that I realized that a staple in our lives is a luxury or even non-existent in other’s lives.
I continue to engage in this group to be reminded daily that I have plenty of things to be grateful for. This is especially important this year with all the negativity everywhere. There are way too many people that have given up on life due to the negativity around them”.
Making gratitude a habit means finding it even in the dark times. This is often when we tend to pull away and have a hard time seeing the good in life. The tough times are when we especially need the support of our grateful group. Wendy says it so well, “This group is very honest and open and we can share wins and also share gratitude in our struggles.”
We have seen each other through family losses, business struggles, divorces and health battles. And it’s the continuous reminders and nudges from the group that help keep us all focused on what is good in our lives. As group member Joanna says, “I value how it helps me to be intentional to think of the things I’m blessed with, and to look for those things and acknowledge them daily no matter my circumstances.”
I wonder somedays, how long will My Grateful Group continue? I guess only time will tell and based on the habits that we have formed as a collective consciousness, I don’t see us letting go anytime soon.
So, today I am grateful for …
- My Grateful Group
- The sunshine lighting up my living room
- Fresh safe drinking water
- Vegetarian breakfast sausages
- New flip flops — my favorite brand — on sale for ½ price!
- Having a means to share with all of you the gift of Gratitude.
Sheri Bennefeld is the founder of Way Beyond Ordinary. She helps business leaders execute on their vision by providing back office solutions that allow them to accomplish more. With a long career in Learning & Development Sheri specializes in course development and virtual event production. You can learn more at www.WayBeyondOrdinary.com