To me, gratitude comes from noticing.
It’s easy to be filled with awe and wonder when you’re standing on a mountaintop or alongside crashing waves, but I believe strongly that our daily lives hold just as much beauty and goodness — if we take the time and make the effort to see them.
I prioritize this, and doing so has enriched my life more than I can say.
I’ve had to pull my car over to the side of the road — one that I’ve driven along to and from my parents’ house for more than forty years — to watch green farmland dance in the summer.
I regularly drop everything and literally bask in the gorgeous light that streams in through my bedroom window. It’s just too good to miss.
And recently, on a run while some snowdrifts were melting, I noticed a trail of puppy pawprints deetle-deetle-deetling across the pavement. I just may have stopped in the middle of the road, slapped my hands on my thighs and laughed up to the sky, “You gotta be kidding me!” What a delight. What a simple little miracle.
Am I weird for doing these things? Maybe. Do I annoy my kids by constantly calling them to the back patio to see the sunset? Possibly. But I’m also training them to notice.
Because here’s the thing: This big world is churning out sunsets and sunrises every day. It’s pushing up flowers each spring and practically screaming “would you look at me!” with jazz hands of crimson and gold leaves every fall.
It’s all there, all the time, for us to see. And we don’t need permission or special training or gear. We just get to have it.
If we truly paid attention to the jaw-dropping wonder all around us, I don’t think we’d get much done. We would be oohing and ahhing and marveling our way through the day, tenderly stepping through our routines just to get distracted by one small amazement after another.
And it’s not just the natural world. It’s art and music and memories and the sound of my kids’ laughter and text threads with friends who get me and the way my mom looks when she has all her family together.
It’s the little drops of goodness and joy and beauty and compassion and bravery that are happening all the time — the things you could easily miss but that could also knock you to your knees if you really saw them.
You might call this approach to gratitude simple, or silly, or surface. Fine with me. I just hope you find a way to gratitude that’s right for you. In the meantime, I’ll be over here delighting in an elderly couple holding hands, in kids with backpacks bigger than them, in a super-juicy pear, in that brief moment of spring when it feels like anything is possible.
But, if you’re ready to start noticing, I promise you’ll find some amazing things. And I’m pretty sure it will change your life.
– Katie Vaughn
Katie is editorial director of Her Whole Story.