Courtesy of The Flash Truck @theflashtruck

Thrive Global is partnering with Crest to talk about the power of gratitude, and the impact of making gratitude part of your daily routine — just like brushing your teeth. Liz Hernandez, a journalist and storyteller and the creator of Wordaful, spoke with us about her love of ritual and how her dog, Albondiga, makes her smile. 

Consistency is the key to developing good habits. If you do something every day it will eventually become a habit, and you’re less likely to skip doing it, just like you wouldn’t skip brushing your teeth. Meditation and journaling every morning are non-negotiable habits for me. I don’t like to step out of the house before I’ve done both. The first thing I do when I wake up is brush my teeth and drink a big glass of water. After 20 minutes of meditation, I drink my first cup of coffee and open my gratitude journal. I write down three things I’m grateful for, as well as seven affirmations. 

I’ve been writing in my gratitude journal for almost 10 years now. The scientific research on gratitude reveals the effects it has on us are really beautiful and powerful. It boosts our immune system and brings down our stress levels. Gratitude can actually rewire our brains, improving our moods. The more you pay attention to your grateful thoughts, the better it works. I was with my oldest sister over the weekend for the first time in a while, and writing about our time together in my journal afterwards deepened the experience and made me feel even more connected to her. The act of journaling is an important ritual — that’s why I give out journals and pens at all of my events. Journaling is a beautiful way to start my morning because it gives me focus, brings me to the present moment, and puts me in a space of appreciation.

The appreciation and perspective from journaling helps carry me through the day — and through life. If I’m grateful for my car and the freedom it brings me, then it helps me feel not as bad if I get a flat tire. Maybe I got a flat tire because if I’d kept going down the freeway I would have gotten into a major accident, and this was God’s way of pulling me over. Gratitude helps me a great deal with my mother’s illness. She has Alzheimer’s, and of course it pains me that we can’t connect in all the ways we used to, but I find gratitude in the fact that my mother is still here. She is 72 years old now and I can still nuzzle my face into her neck, hold her, and tell her that I love her. Even though I am sad sometimes, more often I find myself smiling about having a loving mother who raised me with so much tenderness and wisdom. 

The rest of my family and friends and the incredible support system I have around also inspire me to feel and express gratitude. Of course, I can’t leave out my dog, Albondiga! He is so ridiculous and sweet; he makes me laugh and melts my heart. You can see a video of him in the post I put up with the #ISmileBecause challenge on Instagram. That video was taken on his first birthday, on one of his very first trips to the beach. It was an amazing moment to witness his excitement as he was going into the ocean and running around with big dogs. 

Actually, Albondiga has his own ritual that goes along with my gratitude journaling. When I’m done writing and he hears my pen click closed, he knows it’s his time, and he comes in for some cuddles. It’s the sweetest thing and it makes me smile every single day.