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“Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” — Oprah Winfrey

There are probably many who enjoy writing New Year resolutions. Like many others, I do not do this because it proves to be a waste of my time. If they are not written, they cannot be broken.

As Mark Twain wrote, “New Year’s Day…now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Instead, I prefer to write a gratitude list. Some years I use a spiral notebook. Others, I make and decorate my own booklet. I continue to add to it throughout the year. What fun to go back through the list at the end of the year!

It starts with what I consider the bigger, important things: family, our home, special friends…. It continues to grow until what others might consider unimportant issues are added and pondered, which includes little things for which I am grateful: our library, internet, pets….

Adding to the list provides a delightful way to complete the day, offering relaxation and joyful memories.

It helps keep me focused on what I can be happy and thankful for in the present moment.

In contrast, there may be a few happenings for which I can find no reason to have gratitude toward them. I can still put forth in writing only that I am grateful. Somehow, this can often “magically” change my attitude without effort and sometimes I do not realize the change until much later. It becomes a mood-changer from one of anxiety and scarcity to one of hopefulness, excitement, contentment.

Going to the dentist might be one such happening. Oh, dear! Yet, I know I will be grateful later so I might as well be grateful now, as well.

One important benefit of this list-making is the powerful way in which it can shift my perspective immediately to one where I begin to see the abundance that is already in my life. It definitely uplifts my spirit!

Some starter possibilities might be: my home, my spouse, my child, my extended family, my friends (listed by name), eBay, books, our neighborhood, beautiful memories from trips, doctors, ministers, television, natural foods, sunshine, my teachers….

Once I had my list started, I had to keep it handy. Throughout the day, I periodically had to say to myself, “Oh! I can be grateful for that!” And I just thought of a new one while writing this: holidays!

Sometimes, as I enjoy reading, I find something that triggers another happening or item for which I am grateful. The list is non-ending. It just gives me pleasure to remember each occurrence or detail. It also gives me a bit of satisfaction that I am thinking on these things rather than just playing games on the internet.

When, at times, it seems I have run out of things to be thankful for, all I have to do is look at nature — a beautiful sunset, birds singing, the sparkle of snowfall….

Once we begin expressing gratitude on paper, we begin to find ways to express gratitude to others. This comes around, then, again with an attitude of gratitude that we are sharing with others.

A variation might be using pictures out of old magazines. This can be a healthy project to do with grandchildren, as well. Use a scrapbook and simply cut or even just tear out the pictures from magazines or catalogs that portray items with which to express gratitude.

Children, with their creativity and quick mind, can remind us of more things, too. A picture of a cow reminds us to be grateful for milk! A woman or man in a business outfit reminds the child of his parent who helps earn a living. The child will respond more easily if they know that we are also keeping a gratitude list.

Be sure to date the notebook or scrapbook.

It may seem “old hat” to consider writing such a list but, from personal experience, I know it casts away today’s burdens and brings a song to my heart.

What a grand way to start the new year!

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Dusty Reed is a writer, educator and homemaker. She has shared her Life Now formula with myriad souls over the past 30 years. She says, “Writing is a joy! Whether it is pondering philosophy, new enlightenment, sharing thoughts, or questioning and searching…it feels good to put thoughts on paper and I discover something I hadn’t yet learned to apply. When it becomes a part of my life, it brings an exciting ‘Aha! — that’s how that works!’ Life IS a joy…every moment!”

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