Gratitude Challenge, Part 3: Return of the Gratitude

So it goes that many, many moons ago, a (slightly) younger man than I set out on a quest to make himself feel more grateful for the good things in his life. This intrepid soul took to heart the words and challenge of the speaker Shawn of the Achor, and determined to set himself a goal that would be hard – considering his cynical nature – but worthwhile. And so the first round of the gratitude challenge came about. And it was a success, and there was much feasting and rejoicing. Then some months later, he tried again, with somewhat more mixed results, but still, the feasting and rejoicing occurred. And now, that time has come again.

Yes, it’s time for another round of the Gratitude Challenge.

As I’ve noted before, it is an idea I got at the step-down program I attended… man, was it almost two years ago? It’s an idea from a guy who made a TED Talk I enjoyed (and wrote a book I keep meaning to get around to) named Shawn Achor, and basically it is 21 days of trying to make note of the things in life you are grateful for so that you can try to see things in a more optimistic light. It worked the first time (here’s the link to the start of my first try), though I think the second round was a bit too close to the first to do much good; I’m hooping to get some good out of this try, especially considering things that have been going on – and will be going on – soon. The rules are as follows:

1.Write down three new things you are grateful for each day, in a journal or somewhere else easily accessed. Be specific.

2. Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours.

3. Exercise for 10 minutes a day.

4. Meditate for two minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out.

5. Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a friend, family member, or other person you are grateful to.

I was thinking about postponing the start of this for a day or two, but now that I’m sitting here writing this, I figure there’s no time like the present, so here goes.

I am grateful for my gaming group; even if we meet sporadically, that activity really helps me to be social and exercise a part of myself that I feel is pretty important, plus they’re a great bunch of people. I don’t know if any of you read this, but if so, take a bow. I am grateful for Captain America 2: Winter Soldier, which I just rewatched a few days ago while feeling sick; it’s my favorite Marvel movie, and I think it really captures why Captain America is a great character. And I am grateful for the ability to cook my own meals;it can be hard at times, and potentially stomach-endangering, but it’s an activity that I enjoy and can relax while doing.

Last night, after work, a couple of friends came over to hang out for a few hours, to just hang around and talk. One of them brought her dog, a cool little Shih-Tzu named Simba. Most nights after work I just feel too tired to spend much time around people, even friends, but last night was nice because yesterday was the first time I’d really gotten out of my apartment since getting a stomach bug last Thursday, and because it was a chance to see a good friend who is going to be leaving Texas in about ten days, probably for good; any chance I get to spend time with her before then is going to be something I’ll value. We didn’t do anything momentous – we talked, watched some funny YouTube videos, had some snacks, played with the dog, and just spent a few relaxing hours just chilling out, with nothing important going on or needing to be done. It wasn’t earth-shattering, but it was a good time, and it’s times like that that I really treasure.

As for exercise, I spent about 20 minutes just walking around the apartment complex earlier, just to stretch out my sore muscles from yesterday – 5 days without work makes going back to lifting boxes tough on the back, especially coming off an illness. So it wasn’t strenuous exercise, but it helped my back to loosen up and to get a little sun. As for meditation, I did that in bed this morning just after waking up, because my neck was stiff and the meditation helps with that, as well as to clear my head.

As for the gratitude e-mail or message, I’m not sure who I’ll be sending one to today, but I’ll try to have it out by the end of the day; I have plenty of people to feel grateful for.

Now, this is a 21-day challenge, so this is only day 1 of 21; I’m hoping I’ll be able to post every day, but if not, I’ll try to double up and get all the pertinent information in other posts. The challenge is on!

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