Near the end of 2017, I read a New York Times article that said the best way to cultivate self-control was gratitude. To give you an idea of how long this has been an area where I have needed work, I still remember the humiliating moment when my fourth grade teacher made me go up to her desk in front of my entire class and check the “needs improvement” box next to the “self-control” metric on my quarterly report card. Plus, what better way to work toward my goals than to work on my ability to work toward goals? As one of my resolutions for 2018, I committed to keeping a daily gratitude log.
Every day, I take a couple of minutes to reflect on my day and record at least five things I feel grateful for. Some days, this is easy; other days, it takes real mental gymnastics to come up with anything at all. It’s on those days that I’m especially grateful for this exercise, which, regardless of what it ends up doing for my self-control, I hope will make me a kinder person.
Each month, I plan to share an excerpt from my gratitude log here, one item per day. Here’s January:
01: Soft, warm covers and a nightgown that makes me feel like a princess.
02: If we were going to forget about a dozen hard-boiled eggs and leave them sitting out all day, at least they were unpeeled and it was a cold enough day that they were unlikely to spoil.
03: The return of The Amazing Race.
04: The bomb cyclone was not a cyclone of literal bombs set off by Trump and North Korea.
05: Rebecca reached out in response to my blog post and recommended a book about highly sensitive people that seems like it might be really helpful for me.
06: Well-written and well-imagined fanfiction for escapism.
07: The really long and excellent back rub Lawrence gave me today.
08: Well-timed traffic lights that let me get from home to the museum via the library in under 40 minutes.
09: Afternoon light.
10: A fridge full of delicious food from Chinatown.
12: The new parka I ordered for Lawrence fits him.
13: Hawaii was not in fact attacked by a ballistic missile, despite the false alarm.
14: My guild hall has a very functional snow ramp system now.
15: Cuddling on the bed with Lawrence and our stuffed elephants for family movie night.
16: We managed to buy Hamilton tickets for September.
17: Having sushi for the first time in four months.
18: My ability to deal with the disappointment of the package room closing early more calmly than the man I found there screaming furiously at the door and any passerby who would listen.
19: Two-factor authentication.
20: We survived one full year of President Trump.
21: Apart from some delays, our monthly walk went well: the route was interesting enough, the weather was pleasant, and we found a well-located diner with generous portions for lunch.
22: I was able to simplify my daily cleaning routine using advice from the time management book.
23: The wide sweeps of color streaking the winter sky after rain.
24: We finally made some progress on our thank you cards.
25: My group trip planning spreadsheet idea worked well, and I even got to play with conditional formatting.
26: That first hug with Lawrence after he gets home.
27: I finally found someone to take the last spot for tomorrow’s escape room.
28: A fun and hilarious conversation about the performance art of Tehching Hsieh.
29: The maintenance team that knocked on our door at 11pm because our downstairs neighbor reported water leaking from their ceiling didn’t find any problems in our apartment.
30: Mom brought us home-cooked turkey and tasty Icelandic chocolate.
31: The techniques from the time management book helped me figure out that I was feeling stressed because I had planned 22 hours of to-dos between noon and midnight and adjust accordingly.