How is your day going? Has anything made you smile? Are you excited to tell someone the amazing thing that happened to you or the incredible thing you saw? 

I tend to be pretty observant when I’m walking down the street, or driving to work. I notice little things that make me smile. Sometimes its the moon, even when it’s a little sliver but I can see the shadow of the rest of the moon. How cool is that!? Or I notice the pretty flowers someone has planted, not only for their enjoyment, but for strangers as well. Some days I don’t turn on my radio or podcasts, instead I think about the people and things I’m thankful for in my life. I always get really excited when I see a turtle, especially by my house because there isn’t a creek anywhere close by!

When I’m being thankful and having a heart of gratitude, I have a better day. Little frustrations don’t bother me as much. I try to keep my eyes open to what’s in front of me and take note of what’s unique to this moment on this day.

It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all. – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Simple pleasures show up every day but being busy, tired, stressed and hurried can make it difficult to notice. Try this thankfulness exercise this week. Practice looking for the little things. Put on your detective cap, slow down and be more intentional. Here are a few tips:

1. Look for the beauty in nature.

As you walk down a city street, notice the pot of flowers on a stoop. Appreciate the ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds on a dreary day or a majestic hawk watching guard in a tree. Once you begin to be intentional in your search for something special, you will be surprised how much has always been there and you’ve passed right by.

2. Take opportunities for conversations.

Too often we’re in such a hurry, whether we’re at work, the store or even at home. We have things to do and sometimes we’re even “busy” relaxing and don’t want to be disturbed. Take a moment to ask a question, to open the door of conversation and interest. Notice the elderly person struggling with their bags and offer to help. It may only take a minute of your day but the kindness and connection will last much longer. It feels so good to connect with people and discover how much alike we really are. 

3. Write it down.

There are those who keep gratitude journals and write down the things they’re thankful for every day. It can be particularly helpful when you’re going through a difficult season of life when negative and challenging circumstances can weigh you down. Knowing you have to write down at least one thing you’re thankful for will help you search your mind for that one thing, no matter how insignificant it may seem. You can also write a note or an email to someone telling them why you’re thankful for them in your life. Just think how meaningful that would be to you if someone took the time to send you a note.

Do small things with great love. – Mother Teresa

There are so many creative ways to bring an attitude of gratefulness into your life. The important thing is to do it! It’s so easy to allow negative thoughts and feelings to take over our mind and our day. The best way to push those away is to replace that mental space with positive thoughts. Until it becomes second nature, you will have to be intentional and force yourself to find the silver lining in an otherwise dreary day. Who knows, you might be that silver lining in someone else’s day today.

Wherever you are, be all there. – Jim Elliot