12/22/2014 03:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Grateful for the Little Things

2014-12-21-GratefulfortheLitA41E751.jpgHave you ever noticed that when you pay attention and stay grateful for the little things in your life, most things seem to go well? For the last three years I've created a gratitude challenge on my blog. This year I choose to I write down ten-things-of-thankful (TToT) and post them on the SMART Living FB page every day for 30 days. Now that I've completed the challenge, it's obvious that most of what I listed was little and routine experiences. Gradually I came to realize that when we recognize (with gratitude) those little things that happen each and every day, we are reminded, and appreciate just how important most of those things are for a happy life.

For example, just about every morning I wake up after a good night's sleep and journal. If I start writing my list then I automatically list how glad I am for a good night's sleep and how great I'm feeling because of it. But that's kind of boring, right? I, or any of you who are also doing a gratitude list, might overlook it or take it for granted. Still, if you tossed and turned all night long, and that happens day after day, you have a really big problem on your hands. Sure it might be more interesting to complain or whine about not getting sleep, but highlighting a good night with gratitude surely leads to greater happiness.

Another related element to that scenario is how listing everything we have to be grateful for sounds a little bit like bragging. Last year during my gratitude challenge I wrote about the "Five Myths Of a Thankful Life." I believe it's important to remind ourselves of those five myths on a regular basis. But one that I didn't mention was the idea of how being too grateful sounds egotistical. Let's face it: Not everyone is that interested in hearing the good things that happen to others. On the other hand, if I tell you of a challenge that I'm having and listed 10 of those in one day, many of you would take the time to comment and encourage me. While that can be sweet and compassionate, I truly believe that we serve each other equally as well (or more) when we help others celebrate the good.

With that in mind, here is just one list of Ten-Things-of-Thankful (TToT) for where I include a bunch of the "little" things that many of us routinely enjoy but may take for granted. They are:

  1. Waking up from a good night's sleep. Of course when I was younger this didn't carry the same weight on my gratitude meter. But for those of us who have been around awhile, this is really important and deserves to be recognized with gratitude.
  2. Fresh drinking water. I've mentioned this one before but I am continually reminded of the tremendous gift this is to most of us. Imagine if you can what it would be like to NOT have water as we need it -- that would indeed be a big problem.
  3. Having the ability to get out of bed, and walk and move around at will. Consider for a moment how disruptive it would be to have the loss of that ability from pain or accident, and remember to be grateful.
  4. My eyes. Last week one of my eyes became incredibly itchy and red. Eventually I found out that it was an allergic reaction and took steps to heal the problem. But believe me, it also helped me realize that I just assume I can see and navigate my world every day. Without our eyes, and the every day use of our sight, our world would change dramatically.
  5. A roof over my head. Most of us have a home to go to and a place to sleep at night. Regardless of whether we are completely happy with our home, I never want to take for granted the value and peace of mind that this adds to my life every single day.
  6. That we can go to our refrigerator or cupboard and there is something to eat. While I realize that this isn't true for everyone, most of us do not struggle for food. Obviously without nourishing food every day a person has BIG problems.
  7. Waking up with someone you love who loves you. Of course love comes from all sorts of loving relationships like friends, family and four-legged pets who add tremendous value to our lives.
  8. Air. Air that we can breathe. All you have to do is look at photos of some of the cities in China and know that being able to breathe relatively clean air should NEVER be taken for granted.
  9. That things can and will change. Most of the time, most of us try to keep things exactly as they are. Yet without change we could never experience anything new. We could never grow and become. Our Universe exists because change is a constant and I'm grateful.
  10. The future. If I'm honest I seldom remember to be grateful that I have a future. I know several people who are struggling with health issues that challenge their future and they know it. While none of us knows for sure how long we will be around, thankfully most of us have lots of time left to live, experience and express our gifts.

During the time I was doing my third gratitude challenge there were a couple of times when I wondered why on Earth I was doing it. Does it matter? Does anyone else really care? Is it really necessary to make a big deal of being thankful for the things in our life that are mostly little and routine?

But when you think about it, isn't life more or less a series of millions of little moments and things that add up to a quality life? Perhaps then one of the SMARTest things we can do is to take the time to focus on and be grateful for all those little things in our lives over and over again, just to remind ourselves how important those things are in the big picture of our lives.