Week two of the Social Worker Success 21 Day Gratitude Challenge wraps up today.
I’ve learned sustaining a practice of gratitude can be difficult at times.
What I love about challenges, though, is that it helps give me a little extra nudge to be intentional and do the work.
Before the time of smartphones, this week’s challenge would have been harder. Now I’m armed with a mobile phone/GPS/supercomputer/camera at (nearly) all times.
I took several pictures last week of grateful moments and included some of my favorites above:
- My neighbor’s tree turning color
- Jen and I leaving a 3-D movie
- My daughter playing in leaves
- The sunrise
How did you do taking pictures of the little things in your life that make you feel grateful?
Three things I learned this week:
Thing 1: I went into the week thinking I would easily take pictures of grateful moments as they happened.
Turns out it’s not that easy.
The grateful moments seemed to sneak up on me. I found that I wasn’t always successful snapping a shot immediately when I felt “gratitude was upon me.”
For example, I usually help my daughter brush her teeth in the morning and evening. This overlooked routine is something I have now realized I’m grateful to participate in. When that thought dawned on me, taking a picture was impractical (I didn’t have my phone with me and my hands were a little full.)
After a few days, I decided to jot down a list of my typical day, mundane tasks and all, to better help me identify when a sneaky, grateful moment might pop up.
Thing 2: I realized that it’s ok to take a picture later if it helps reminds me of the gratitude I felt. Example: a snapshot of a coffee mug reminds me of mornings with my wife . . . and I love her and coffee. 😎+😍+☕️=❤️
Writing notes in long-hand helps you remember information better. Taking a picture, I suggest, is another important method of imprinting a memory into your brain.
Thing 3: Pictures begin to serve their purpose only when we look back at them. The captured moment triggers the memory and possibly the original feeling.We need to intentionally revisit and look at these reminders of grateful moments, especially when days are hard.
We often have photo albums of weddings, vacations, or other momentous occasions. But what about pictures of the little things in your life.
We need a sneaky moments album. A picture album that holds the little moments that can so easily escape us.
I suggest that cataloging and revisiting these ordinary moments can be vital to developing our gratitude practice.
Gratitude and the importance of the ordinary moments
Dr. Brené Brown spent years conducting research interviews with people who had experienced tremendous loss: violent trauma, genocide, or loss of a child.
Time after time she noted respondents mentioning the same theme:
Here are three suggestions for avoiding overlooking your small ordinary moments:
- Spend a few minutes and list the ordinary events and routines in your life.
- Be sure to notice enjoyable routines and the ones you tend to dread.
- Pay special attention to interactions with family members, friends, and colleagues.
When you are conscious of when and where grateful moments may happen, you have a better chance of being present in the moment.
See below to catch up on weeks one and two.