The Thankfulness Challenge, A Guest Post by Kelsey Harper

I am running an empowerment group for gifted high school girls. At our meeting last month, I challenged the girls to keep daily gratitude journals. I shared that in my family we keep a thankfulness journal that we update each night at dinner. My student Kelsey shared that she and her family have adopted the same practice. I asked her if she would write something about it. Here’s what she had to say: 

I have a wonderful life. I have parents who love me, amazing friends, and a cozy house. I can eat when I’m hungry, and I have the right to a great education, but I’m not always happy. Moodiness is like the calling card of the teenage years. We get a bad rep from books, movies, and TV shows for being short sighted, and moderately bipolar. But I don’t think this is a fair assessment of teenagers. I think we just haven’t had enough experience to appreciate our lives, so we overreact when small things go wrong. In the hopes of becoming a happier, less moody teen, over the past month I have tried an interesting experiment. I kept track of three things each day I was thankful for. Every night at dinner I would think back through my day and choose. Some days it was hard to pick from the many things I was thankful for; on others it was hard to find three great things, but it was those days that made me really appreciate the small stuff.

I am thankful for my brother, for making me laugh from halfway across the country. I am thankful for the residents of Southampton Nursing Home for teaching me patience, and new card games. I am thankful for hair ties for keeping all of my hair outa my face. I am thankful for cuddling, scarves, warm socks, and sweaters. I’m thankful I have a healthy family, and music to uplift my spirits. 
As I continued this experiment it got harder and harder to narrow down the things I was thankful for to just three. Now everyday as little things happen I try to make mental notes so I can remember to be thankful for specific things at dinner, but life is too full of wonderful things to remember them all. When I started this I thought it would be the exact opposite; I gave myself two weeks until I would run out of things to be thankful for. But, even on the worst days, when I make an effort to remember the small things people do for me, it can turn my thinking around 180 degrees and suddenly become the best day of my life. 

I am thankful for hand-me-down clothes for being free, soft, and already broken in. I am thankful for rainy days for cleaning the earth and helping things grow, and I am thankful for gentlemen, and volunteers for restoring my faith in humanity. I am thankful for this experiment for making every morning the start to the new best day of my life. I never want that feeling to go away.

Do you keep a gratitude journal? Research shows that a regular practice in thankfulness is one of the best ways to increase your happiness. 

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