About ten years ago, I started the nightly practice of counting off ten things I was grateful for at the end of each day, just before bedtime. This got to be such a habit that when I forgot to make my daily list — when I was traveling, or had had a particularly busy evening — I found that I had trouble falling asleep.
Some folks write these lists down, but I just count these blessings out on my fingers. I try to have a completely different list for every evening, though in the first couple of weeks — when the whole practice still felt kind of silly — I was throwing things like, “I’m grateful that I have ten fingers and ten toes” onto the list, just to get through it.
Today, the nightly practice has evolved from a gratitude list to my “good things today” list. I’ll recount for myself things that went well with my work — a good interview with a source for a story I’m working on, or the sale of an essay to a new magazine — and from my personal life (nothing beats going on a long hike in Forest Park with a well-behaved husky).
But from the beginning, I’ve also included my gratitude for green trees, clean air and water, croaking frogs, cool grass — or whatever part of the natural environment has brought me peace or inspiration that day. Not only has this practice made me more aware of the many blessings in my life, but I feel more in touch with and more appreciative of so many amazing and abundant natural elements and resources that I otherwise might take for granted.
I no longer limit myself to just ten items on my list. Once I hit the first ten, I’ll challenge myself to list another ten, and then another five, or another three. I’d like to think that going to bed with an “attitude of gratitude” brings more peaceful sleep and makes it that much easier to get up in the morning.
It might seem like a hokey ritual, but give it a try. 🙂