Gratitude, making your own happiness, part 1 of 3

My good friend Matthew left formal religion as a non-believer. This was a big problem for his wife, who consequently dumped him, moved away with his kids, and remarried. He counseled me a lot as I was newly divorced.

I sought that out, because his divorce was amicable and he refuses to be miserable. What happened (losing his wife whom he adored, and his very young kids moving to another state) is the kind of thing many people spend a lifetime recovering from.

But he’s made a choice to be happy, make a cool life for himself. He has found meditation and gratitude exercises to be life-savers. He gave me an awesome Tony Robbins Gratitude CD a long time ago. You can’t listen to it and stay in a gloomy place.

Today I just want to write five things I’m thankful for. I hope you’ll do the same.

One, I am so glad I have my four beautiful kids. They all have quality friends and activities they excel at. They have fun, unique personalities and I learn from them every day. I made a goal today to not allow myself to say anything that “corrects” them (i.e. constructive criticism!) unless I’ve said five positive things first. Parenting thoughtfully has taught me creativity. Just now, I said to Ten, “I am going to be SO proud of you when you start putting your Lara Bar wrappers in the trash–I’m excited about that!” instead of “Why did you throw this on the floor again?”

Two, I am thankful for a healthy body that serves me well, never lets me down. It lets me play tennis, run, and my latest fun thing–Zumba dance.

Three, I am thankful I live in the Rocky Mountains, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I have a beautiful view of nature every day. Snowy, green, yellow/orange, depending on the time of year–I love it year-round. Sundance / Provo Canyon are my “happy place” on my skiis, bike, or feet.

Four, I am thankful for beautiful and unique friends who each contribute something valuable to my life, make me laugh, help me see things differently, and teach me stuff as I sit with them in negotiating their life’s trials. That includes my internet friends–every one of you who contributes here. (And even you lurkers–love you, too!)

Five, I am thankful for meaningful work that I love. I get to help people, write, travel, and eat good food, in my job. How could I ask for more? I always have a choice: and I choose to focus on what I have, not what I don’t.

I would love it if you would undertake this exercise–here on my blog or privately. I have a few comments tomorrow about creating your own happiness.