What are you grateful for today?
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that makes us happier and healthier. But don’t just take my word for it:
In a 2021 article, Harvard Health discussed several studies that linked gratitude with joy, improved health, stronger relationships, more positive emotions, and stronger resilience.
It’s easy to be thankful for the big moments and the obvious things in life, such as our loved ones, careers, good health, financial stability, and life itself.
But how often do you find yourself appreciating the small stuff?
I ask because to enjoy the benefits of gratitude, we must practice it all the time. To do this, we need to train ourselves to be appreciative even of the things often left unnoticed.
To help you get started on your journey of cultivating your attitude of gratitude, here are 10 unique things to be grateful for.
Let’s jump in!
1) Be grateful for sunsets and sunrises
Let’s start by appreciating the beautiful phenomenon that starts and ends our days: the sun rising and setting.
I’m a sucker for sunsets and sunrises. There’s just something about them that’s so serene and uplifting. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t appreciate the beauty of seeing the sunrise or the sunset.
So why is this on my list of unique things to be thankful for?
Because often, like other things that happen every day, we’re so used to the sun rising and setting that we forget to be grateful for them. Sure, we appreciate the beautiful horizon when we see them, but when did you last appreciate the message behind each sunrise or sunset?
They symbolize many beautiful things we ought to be grateful for, like: hope, closure, the past, new beginnings, and so much more!
“Sunrises and sunsets are daily proof that the day can start and end beautifully. What happens in between is up to you.”
2) Be grateful for bills
Yes, you read that right. And yes, this is still a list of unusual and interesting things to be grateful for. But no, I’m not talking about dollar bills. I’m referring to the ones you must pay, like water, electricity, mortgage, and even your credit card bills.
You probably think this is absurd, especially when the dreaded bills take the bulk of our payslips. But let me share with you something I’ve learned that changed my perspective about bills:
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a podcast where motivational author Louise Hay talked about the importance of not worrying about our bills.
According to Louise, we should be thankful for our bills because it recognizes our ability to pay. She says that the biller trusts and assumes that we are prosperous enough that they are willing to provide the product or service first. She says that when we bless our bills and pay them joyfully, we open the “free-flowing channel of abundance.”
Read that paragraph again and take your time to let it sink in.
Did it help change your view of bills as it did mine? Did it convince you to be thankful for your bills rather than resent them?
3) Be grateful for challenges that come your way
If you’ve changed your outlook on bills, try seeing challenges in a different light, too.
I feel you. It’s easy to say and hard to do. That’s why it’s called a challenge, after all. But have a read through this:
Michael J. Fox, known for his iconic roles in The Back to the Future films, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991. In a magazine interview, he talked about learning to respond to challenges with gratitude.
He said that adopting an attitude of gratitude has helped maintain his positive mindset. Here’s his advice to those finding it hard to be thankful in difficult situations:
“If you don’t think you have anything to be grateful for, keep looking. Because you don’t just receive optimism. You can’t wait for things to be great and then be grateful for that. You’ve got to behave in a way that promotes that.”
Being thankful amidst difficulties is hard, but Michael J. Fox is proof that it is doable.
Recognizing our core values, or the aspects of our lives that truly matter to us, can help cultivate gratitude when faced with challenges.
Unsure of what these are?
Check out this free checklist. With a free exercise included, you’ll get clarity on the values most important to you.
And once you have that, there’s no holding you back from unlocking the transformative power of gratitude and living life with meaning and purpose!
4) Be grateful for the rain
Sometime in 2022, Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore went viral for frolicking in the rain. She wasn’t wearing anything special, and she wasn’t doing any stunts. She was simply enjoying herself in the rain.
Like the sunsets and sunrises, rain is also one of those occurrences that we take for granted because we expect them as part of how mother nature rolls. For the most part of the world, rain comes and goes. But there are places across the globe with extremely limited rainfall.
Let’s dig a little deeper:
In Luxor, a city in Egypt, it usually only rains one day a year, and when it does, it’s only about 1 mm for the entire year. To help you visualize that better, grab a ruler and look at the 1 mm mark. That’s how much rain Luxor gets in an entire year!
If that rain wasn’t bad enough, the Atacama Desert in Chile only gets half of that in any given year. To put it into perspective, that’s like getting a single drop of water onto your fingertip!
So the next time it rains, take Drew Barrymore’s advice and don’t miss the opportunity to appreciate it and go out in it!
5) Be grateful for the sound of silence
If we can appreciate the pitter-patter of rain, we should also learn to be grateful for moments of silence.
Prolonged silence can be eerie and anxiety-provoking, so short periods of silence can be a weird thing to be grateful for. But here’s the science that supports the benefits of silence to our physical and mental health:
Swedish scientists studied musicians in 2009 and found that having quiet periods between musical notes magnifies the brain’s ability to process information.
Experts from Harvard also agree that silence helps develop new cells in the brain’s learning and memory centers, stabilizes our heart and respiratory systems, increases our morale, and boosts our productivity.
In today’s modern world, our senses are overstimulated with so much information, including sound. It’s very rare these days to have moments of silence, so when you get it, make the most of it and be thankful for it.
6) Be grateful for laughter
If silence is not your thing, maybe the sound of laughter is.
So what are the 10 things to be grateful for when it comes to laughter?
- Like a smile, laughter is a universal language.
- It connects people together.
- It’s a momentary escape from a sometimes harsh reality.
- It relaxes our muscles.
- It helps us relieve stress by regulating our heart rates.
- When we laugh, we inhale oxygen better. This helps stimulate organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
- It helps us cope during hard times.
- It releases natural painkillers.
- It is believed to improve our immune system.
You could be laughing at a funny show, the antics of friends and family, a joke, a hilarious incident, or it may also be memories of any of these.
So the next time you enjoy a hearty laugh, make a conscious effort to feel gratitude for your ability to laugh and the moments that made it happen.
7) Be grateful for rejections (in life and love)
In my experience, appreciating rejection usually comes in retrospect.
Here’s a personal anecdote to show what I mean:
My email has a folder labeled “job applications.” It’s my collection of “we regret to inform you” letters from prospective employers over a decade ago when I began job hunting.
So why do I still have this folder more than 10 years on? I use it as a reminder that the universe always has my back. Looking back at those rejection letters, I realize they’re for jobs that I couldn’t imagine my present self being in.
It’s the same with rejections in love and relationships. It’s nearly impossible to be thankful for a breakup immediately after it happened.
But when you look back on your past relationships, you will understand why it happened. Rejections in love often steer us away from the wrong person to lead us to the right one.
Breakups are also a chance to give yourselves time to grow individually, so when the right time and circumstances come, you’d enjoy a healthier, longer-lasting relationship.
To put more emphasis on my point, here are a few examples of famous people whose rejections are undeniably gratitude worthy:
- Michael Jordan was rejected from his high school varsity team. His coach then thought he was merely “mediocre,” so he instead placed on the school’s junior team. Yet now, he’s arguably the game’s greatest of all time.
- Walt Disney was fired from a local newspaper because of “lack of creativity”.
- Madonna experienced rejection by a few record labels before being dubbed “The Queen of Pop.”
- Van Gogh was fired from his job as an art dealer.
- Fashion designer Vera Wang, known for her wedding couture, competed nationally in figure skating until she failed to make it to the Olympic Team in 1968.
Long story short, let’s be thankful for rejections because they lead us to the right path. They push us to become better, if not the best, versions of ourselves.
8) Be grateful for your curiosity and imagination
Like rejections, being curious and imaginative can propel us into success, so we should embrace the random questions and ideas that pop into our heads from time to time.
Without their curiosity, we wouldn’t be reaping the benefits of Albert Einstein’s discoveries and Nikola Tesla’s inventions.
Einstein said it himself:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
9) Be grateful for our differences
Life would be dull if we all looked, acted, and thought the same. That is enough reason to be thankful for the world’s diverse culture and varied experiences.
Here are more reasons to be thankful for our differences:
- Charles Darwin attributed his work on the theory of evolution to the varied ecosystems and species he encountered when he sailed around the world from 1831 to 1836.
- Jazz music comes from a mix of African-American musical traditions, blues, marches, ragtime, and other genres of music.
- Alexander Graham Bell, famous for inventing the first telephone, was born in Scotland, studied in London, immigrated to Canada, and eventually settled in America. This diverse experience has likely inspired his innovative, out-of-the-box thinking.
- Fusion cuisine is a mouth-watering reason I’m thankful for our cultural differences – we get to indulge in the world’s best cuisines put together.
I could come up with an A to Z gratitude list about diversity, but allow me instead to share this quote as it pretty much gives the gist of it:
“Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.”
– M. Scott Peck
10) Be grateful for perfectly timed photos
The last, but definitely not the least, on our list is actually a cool thing to be thankful for: photos captured at the right moment.
If you’re around the same age as me, you’ll understand the actual struggle of taking perfectly timed photos (think 35-mm film cameras). Unless you had money to burn, photos were limited to 36 shots, so everyone had to be in their best poses, and the photographer must take the shot efficiently.
Fortunately, we can collect more perfectly timed photos thanks to modern-day devices that allow for unlimited photos. Ergo, more reasons to be thankful.
But what is the best thing to be grateful for when it comes to perfectly timed photos?
It’s the story captured at that moment in time. A captured moment that evokes strong emotions. It’s a special moment that may not be captured the same way again.
National Geographic actually has an Instagram account dedicated to these kinds of photos. It’s a beautiful portal for anyone across the globe to share their stories through photos.
Check it out and you’ll understand better why a perfectly timed photo is something to be grateful for.
There’s always something to be grateful for
Gratitude is a powerful tool to help us maintain a positive mindset and overcome negative thoughts and emotions.
It’s a habit that is best practiced every moment of our lives and thankfully, it is impossible to run out of things to be grateful for. If you open your eyes to them, you will see the many big and small things to be thankful for.
Let me end this with something to think about: what are you deeply grateful for?
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