What Practicing Gratitude Taught Me About What I Really Want In Life


At the beginning of the pandemic, I began writing again a lot more to try and make sense of everything that I was feeling. What started out as taking a few minutes to write my thoughts out in a journal each morning drifted into writing a list of five things that I’m grateful for each night.

This isn’t a new idea – do a quick Google search of “the benefits of gratitude” and you’ll find tons of psychology studies and thought pieces about how gratitude can support your mental wellbeing. While I thought that this might at least help me to feel better in a time that often feels heavy and uncertain, it ended up showing me a whole lot more about what I want to continue to seek as I build my own life.

1. I Want To Have Time To Enjoy The Little Moments

I started to realize that the things I was writing about weren’t all big, huge life events. I am a person who loves stories, whether they’re told in a book or on a screen. While it can feel amazing to escape into someone else’s story for an hour or two, the thing about these stories is that they focus on dramatic, meaningful moments. When you build your own expectations around stories, you can forget how much meaning can be found in the tiny, ordinary parts of your day. I want to create a life for myself that leaves me space to breathe, slow down, and enjoy the briefest, beautiful moments of life that we are often too busy to pause and acknowledge.

2. I Want To Be Able To Find Something Good In Everything

Even on some of the worst days that I’ve had recently, I have forced myself to write down something that I am grateful for. Even on the hardest days, there has been at least one moment that I appreciated, whether it was the way that something my dog did made me laugh or how warm my bed felt at the end of a cold day. Even on days when it feels like the world is crashing down, there will be seconds of magic that remind you of how it feels to be okay again. I want my life to be full of opportunities for these tiny moments of joy, because sometimes these tiny moments become the most memorable parts of your day.

3. I Want To Be Part Of Something Greater Than Myself

Continuing to find connection during this pandemic has been a new challenge for me. The work I was doing in my community was ripped away from me basically overnight, the opportunities I had to share pieces of myself with other people became limited to interactions through a screen. Although I think of myself as being introverted, I still need the kind of experiences that allow me to support and connect with other people in order to feel like myself. I began to find new ways to remind myself that there were still people on the other side of the screen, people who were hearing my voice and reading my words. So many of my moments of gratitude were centered in these connections I made, even during this time when so many of us feel so alone. I want to make sure that my life allows me to work alongside other people, to share pieces of my heart in a way that allows others to share their own hearts with me. I want to be part of something that is greater than myself.

There are many more things that I have learned from taking stock of what I’m grateful for in a day – I want my life to allow me to explore and create, to share my art with other people, to have more moments of laughter and dancing around in my bedroom singing love songs into a hair brush. Most importantly, actively acknowledging what I’m grateful for allowed me to see what I don’t want in life. I don’t want to spend my time doing things that don’t light me up in some way.

I hope that my reflections have helped you to reflect on what you want in your life, too. Keep track of the small moments that make you smile, the little interactions that take your breath away. All of these tiny moments matter, too. Notice them. I hope they help guide you toward a life that lets you be the best version of yourself, brings you joy, and leads you to the person who you were always meant to be.