Today is sun-filled with perfect blue skies and hints of a crisp Toronto winter teasing me on my morning walk along the lake. There is something about a chilly autumn morning that has me lost in thought. This morning I was thinking about the last twelve months of my life and all of the things for which I am grateful.
In December of 2013, just 11 short months ago, I moved my entire life of 17 years back to Canada. I did this for many reasons, but the biggest reason was that my step father passed away two years ago and suddenly, with my mother now on her own, I felt the need to be near my family.
On my walk, I started listing the things that have happened in the last 11 months and noticed that my gratitude list generally fit into one of five categories:
Learning and growth
It occurred to me that a yearly gratitude list is as important, if not more important, than the January goals and resolutions list so many of us feel compelled to make. So this is how you go about creating Your Yearly Gratitude List:
1. Make Your List In December – I think a very nice way to conclude your year, before the frenzy of Christmas and New Year, is to spend time being grateful for all that you have. Reflect on your relationships (the people you love and who love you), your health (new habits you’ve created, challenges you have overcome), your wealth (new jobs, direction and ideas, debts paid, profits made), learning and growth (courses taken, things you’ve learned, ambitions achieved) and giving back (donations, helping family/friends and strangers, volunteering, paying it forward).
2. Write it Down – I started my mental list on my morning walk and came home and began to write it down on my makeshift Ikea whiteboard (courtesy of Ikea Hackers). There are many benefits to writing things down and if you’re like me, one of them is that you actually remember the things to which you commit! Lifehacker reminds us that regular writing may also have mental health benefits and boost your creativity.
3. Notice the Gaps – Straight away I noticed my gratitude list is heavy on the learning and growth (I’m a definite doer) and a little light on the giving back. I could stretch and say, all the posture work that I do involves giving back, but that feels a bit like cheating. The giving back that I’m referring to, is the kind you do when you expect nothing in return. Like my lovely friend Victoria, who has adopted a 9 year old girl through the Children’s Aid Society. At the age of 44 she has become a single mum of a young girl with many challenging issues. Not many of us would take this on but she did and I think she’s wonderful!
4. Blow Your Own Horn – This is not the time to be modest. This is YOUR gratitude list. If you are not used to seeing the good in your life, I give you permission to spend a good hour tooting your own horn. If something pops into your head (I spent many mornings this summer diving into a cool lake to swim to the other side and back – darn right that goes on my list) then it is likely important enough to make your gratitude list.
5. Celebrate – Decide on a completion day for your list (and keep adding to it). I’ve decided to complete my list on Friday December 19th. Then take a picture of it, save it on your computer, share it with a friend or just revel in the life you have lived for the last 12 months. And finally … CELEBRATE your achievements, successes, relationships, health, wealth and growth! You deserve it. If you can’t think of any special way to celebrate then I’m making this certificate for you.
If you would like a signed copy of this award’s certificate, with your name, then simply share a few of the things on your gratitude list in the comments below and I will email you your very own certificate. I’m grateful to all of you for reading this blog post. Thank you!