16 Things That Make My Daily Life Better

Most mornings, I’m not exactly thrilled when my alarm goes off.

I don’t jump up and down in excitement when something else gets added to my plate at work or it’s time to pay bills or someone bails on me. Things happen on a daily basis that get on my nerves . . . even if they are the smallest of offenses.

The ensuing anxiety and frustration can blind me from all the goodness, beauty, and wonder that surrounds me daily, and they ultimately rob me of my life—the life I want to live. The life that is good and joyful and chock-full of countless opportunities to practice gratitude.

Gratitude is the reality check that the sullen, angsty teenager living inside of me needs.

In this moment of gratitude, we are surrounded by good things. We only need to pause long enough to make note of them.

I know I often need help remembering this. Maybe you do, too. If so, here is a list of things you and I can be grateful for right now (even if you’re having a really annoying day).

1. Music

There really is nothing so wonderful as a good song. I mean songs that somehow understand what you’re experiencing and can convey that beautifully. How does that even happen?! There are songs I’ve listened to probably hundreds of times . . . because I can (and because they’re amazing). A couple of my current favorites are “Farther Along” by Josh Garrels and “The Storehouse” by Gray Havens.

2. Sunshine

Walking outside and feeling the warmth on your face . . . it’s incredible. Especially after a few days of rain (which happen often here in Cincinnati where I live and work). The shining sun is something I hope I never take for granted again.

3. Laughter

A good laugh is a cure for even the most tiresome of days. When a coworker makes me genuinely laugh, my whole day is vastly improved. I am very blessed that I am presented with countless opportunities to laugh daily. Even on the days where it’s more difficult to find those opportunities for mirth, I spend a few minutes looking at memes and suddenly everything’s okay again. Example: I enjoyed writing this article a thousand times more when I decided to incorporate GIFs (#bestjobever).

4. Words

Have you ever read something that resonated with you at a deep level? It doesn’t really matter who wrote them or when, words have a way of nourishing and inspiring us that I can’t help but be in awe of. There are quotes and passages from books that I can confidently say have changed my life for the better. Example: Sometimes I’ll look up quotes by some of my favorite authors for a little inspiration. A recent find is the following from author C. S. Lewis:

“Each day we are becoming a creature of splendid glory or one of unthinkable horror.”

5. Wonder

When was the last time you were in awe of something? It’s so easy for us (at least for me) to become jaded as adults. We rarely let ourselves be awestruck—it’s not “cool.” But being truly in awe of something—the stars, a mountain, a beautiful song or story—is actually the appropriate response to the wondrous things in life . . . and it’s so freeing.

6. Green space

Wide open spaces just make my soul happy. Parks, the countryside, backyards . . . somehow I can’t help but be more relaxed and carefree when I’m surrounded by green. Science has proven that green space improves our mood, satisfaction, and personal sense of peace. Example: Yesterday I picked up some donuts and went to a park with an incredible view—my roommate and I made the most of an incredibly beautiful fall evening, and it was just what I needed.

7. Mornings

Yes, it’s hard to get out of bed (like, really hard), especially if it’s still dark out—but it’s so worth it. The brisk air, the mysterious colors, the peaceful silence, and the infinite possibilities. It is so worth it. Starting my day earlier has really set me up to make the most out of my week and appreciate every moment we’re given.

8. Blankets

They are the best thing, aren’t they? So warm, so cozy, so lovely. Every cold morning that I snuggle up with my biggest blanket and a mug of hot coffee . . . I can’t help but feel overwhelmingly content.

9. Affirmations

Kind, honest words are like a blanket for the heart. They provide warmth and comfort that I can hold on to. A genuine compliment is something I treasure and make an effort to give out often.

10. Walks

Moving is so good. It is so darn easy and comfortable to sit for long hours at my desk . . . a little too comfortable. Getting up and going for a walk helps wake me up, clear my head, and come back with a little more clarity and focus (plus it’s a healthy habit to get into).

11. Photographs

I know today we just snap a million photos with our smartphones and then never look at them again, so pictures aren’t really a big deal. But a candid, beautiful photo of a loved one is something I treasure. Photographs allow us to capture sacred moments with friends and family and revisit them as often as we’d like, something I am infinitely grateful for.

12. Colorful leaves

As I write this, the tree outside my window bears some of the prettiest leaves I’ve possibly ever seen. The shades of gold and red take my breath away each time I glance out the window. My work day is improved one thousand percent because of this natural phenomenon that occurs in the fall.

13. Good listeners

Those people who make you feel important and valued, who not only hear what you are saying but also what you’re not saying . . . I am so lucky to have people like that in my life. We all want to be seen, heard . . . known. It’s easy to think about ten other things when someone is talking to us, but I know that when we put all our focus on who is in front of us it makes a world a difference.

14. Children

Every time I see a child or get to spend time with one, I am so appreciative. Children are such wonderful teachers for us grown-ups. They show us how to be, as opposed to just do things all the time. They are naturally inclined to authenticity and purity. I love kids and am grateful for every second I have with them.

15. Stories

Reading, in general, makes me so happy, but recently I’ve felt especially grateful for those great storybooks that never get old. Reading Gone with the Wind has reminded me of all the goodness and beauty that exists within the imagination of creatives such as Margaret Mitchell (and many, many others) who took the time to write these classic novels. Perhaps the most incredible part is how much truth these pieces of fiction reveal.

16. Generosity

The only reason I’m here (alive and well) is because of the generosity of others. My parents, my friends, my coworkers, the gifts of others (time, money, advice) have sustained me since the beginning of my precious life. Just this morning, I had to get a ride to work from my roommate. Yesterday evening, my friend’s father dropped off a couch they no longer needed. There are thousands of instances I could recall that have gotten me to where I am today, and they all include the lavish generosity of others.

You get the point. There is so, so much to be grateful for in this short life that it's mind-numbing. So, even if you are having a quite frustrating day, take a second to say the one thing we all need to say more often: thank you.

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