"Contentment makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor." - Benjamin Franklin
"Gratitude turns what we have into enough."
And, Gretchen Rubin the creator of The Happiness Project (amazing) focuses on gratitude as one the key components to a happier life. (Here's a video from her on this very subject- Cultivating Gratitude).
Recognizing what we already have, from the material things to the little everyday happenings changes the way we relate to our surroundings. When I can look at how truly lucky I am in so many different areas of life it makes me actually WANT LESS.
Being able to find contentment results in a greater sense of overall happiness, and I'm finding that the more grateful I am the less appealing the new and fancy things are. Being thankful, being grateful, and trying to be content makes my (almost instinctual) urge to consume, spend and "keep-up" become greatly reduced. And that, is a very good thing.
That's why when I heard about Katharine Jensen's blog Two Good Things I was fascinated. With her blog she focuses on gratitude, and about recognizing her life in a new way, and I can't help but think, "What am I grateful for today?" The answer: hot coffee and the hot sun.
Two Good Things: I started Two Good Things in July of 2011. At the time, I was studying for the Colorado Bar Exam, had just finished law school, and had been diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease a few months earlier. One day when I was feeling particularly down, I was whining on the phone to my mother when she interrupted me. She said, “do you realize that you only tell me the negative things going on in your life? From now on, for every bad thing you tell me, you have to tell me two good things about your day.” Thus, the blog was born!
ATSS: Did you have a goal when you started your blog? (To feel happier, more content, more appreciative?)
TGT: My goal was really to start noticing all the little “good things” life has to offer. At a time when I was particularly focused on the negative, it was crucial to slow down to see the positive things in every day.
ATSS: What has the experience been like to come up with 2 things you appreciate every day and has it been easier or harder then you anticipated?
TGT: It has been SO much harder than I thought! But it’s not that hard to find two good things a day- it’s hard to find two unique good things. I guess that in and of itself is a good thing- that good things repeat themselves every day!
ATSS: Has there been anything that you were surprised to find that you appreciated?
TGT: I’ve been surprised to find that I appreciate things that others would presume to be “bad” things, or things they might not personally appreciate. For instance, one day my two good things were “trashy tv” and “feeling full.” While some might not think these are good things, for me, for very specific reasons, they were great things that day.
ATSS: Do you think that writing about what you appreciate and making a specific point to acknowledge the goodness in your life has affected your day-to-day life? If so, how?
TGT: It has really made me an overall happier, more positive person. I used to instantly look to the negative aspects of a situation until I started writing this blog. Now, I find that even in frustrating situations, I try to find the positive (mostly so I can have something to write about!)
ATSS: We all have bad days. How do you find the good in those days?
TGT: It’s all about perspective. A few days ago, I waited for over an hour to get my medicine from the pharmacy. While we all know there are few more annoying situations, I tried my best to focus on the positive emotions and personal reactions that stemmed from the situation (i.e. “patience” and “sticking up for myself.”)
ATSS: Do you feel your negative thoughts have decreased as a result of this project?
TGT: My negative thoughts are still there. I still whine and complain and cry like I used to. But I’m finding that I’m starting to put much more energy into focusing on the negative things in my life, which is making me an overall happier person.
ATSS: Do you feel more grateful and content with life since starting your blog? If so, why or why not?
TGT: I feel so grateful for the littlest things now. I appreciate a note, a smile, or even a stranger holding the door open for me much more than I used to. I’ve come to terms with my illness and have worked to make it a “good thing” as best as I can by being proactive and working with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. That way, even though I may be feeling sick one day, I can find happiness in knowing that I sponsored a marathon runner or donated to a research project that day too.
ATSS: Has anything happened as a result of your project that you were not expecting?
TGT: It’s gotten a lot more attention than I expected. My friends and classmates often contact me saying how much they like reading it and how it has inspired them to focus on finding two good things in their day. It’s been a fun, but unexpected, way to connect with my friends.
ATSS: What are your Two Good Things for today?
TGT: My Two Good Things for today are “Blogging” and “Being Appreciated.” Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to contribute to And Then She Saved if I hadn’t started a blog myself. And it’s a pretty amazing feeling to recognize that others can appreciate what I’m trying to do and even start their own, personal “two good things” project.
Now it's your turn... what two things are you grateful for today?
●Katharine Jensen of Two Good Things ·Thank You· for being a part of And Then She Saved●