A big part of living in gratitude is noticing little events throughout the day that have a positive impact on us—and taking the time to register these small events as the gifts they are.For example, the other day, I received a check from a doctor I had seen two years ago. The accompanying letter said an audit showed they owed me a refund. Being somewhat skeptical, I called the billing department (I didn’t want to cash the check and then find I had actually enrolled in a Vitamin of the Month club). The billing department confirmed this check was legitimate.
“Merry Christmas to me,” I said to the billing department staff person. Yes, this was a gift, pure gift, and I was grateful. It was only $20, but it was an unexpected $20, something I didn’t have the day before.
As I drove to work soon after that call, I recalled the check, my response to the billing department staff person and my happiness at having received this unexpected gift. I added “unexpected gifts” to my litany of gratitude for the day, and reminded myself to be more mindful of other unexpected gifts throughout the day.
I didn’t have to wait long.
When I got to my office, I found a note taped to the door with a picture attached—just someone thoughtfully stopping by to say hi and to leave a little gift.
I allowed myself to feel the delight that welled up inside me, and the gratitude for this person’s thoughtfulness. Again, a small thing, but one that touched me because it was unexpected and because it was a random act of generosity.
Later that day, a volunteer came into my office to work with me on a project. This one-hour meeting would lead to her spending many more hours of follow-up work at home, all of which will strengthen our nonprofit organization. She embraces her volunteer work enthusiastically, happy to be able to use her skills to build up our nonprofit, and her commitment to our organization makes a big difference. I was grateful, thanked her, and added her to my litany of gratitude.
And so the day went. Seemingly little things adding up to make a big difference.
It can be easy to see what goes wrong in a day—the rude driver or the phone call that does not end in my favor or the volunteer who doesn’t show up for a scheduled meeting. But, shifting the focus to what goes right and giving more energy to noticing the good things creates fertile ground for gratitude to grow.
It can be a subtle shift, but one that results in significant changes because we are more likely to see what we look for. If we only focus on what is going wrong, we cannot see what is going right.
Focusing on what is going right sets us on the path to seeing and receiving more good things—more things for which to be grateful.