Counting my blessings

Alicia BessetteI was twenty-five and in my very first yoga class when I first heard the expression, “an attitude of gratitude.” My yoga teacher Mary encouraged her students to adopt such an approach and see how it changed our perceptions, and subsequently our lives.

Though yoga was completely foreign to me then, Mary’s idea of consciously deciding to be thankful seemed familiar, probably thanks to my mother’s frequent reminders to “count your blessings.”

I’ve been counting my blessings for years. I make a mental list, ticking off all my many gifts one by one. I start off with general things, such as my family and a strong heart that beats, and wind up with more specific things, such as an afternoon talking about writing with my close friend Lori over blueberry tea.

Counting my blessings tends to make me happier. Sometimes the practice even prevents me from succumbing to dark moods, to which many creative types seem prone.

A recent public experiment in the UK concluded that smiling, counting your blessings and reliving happy memories all boost your mood.

“Thinking of a positive thing that happened the day before was by far the most effective way for people to cheer themselves up,” read an article from the Guardian. “It could be something as simple as a great cup of coffee or meal, watching a good film or television programme, or things going well at work.”

My sister’s family has a similar bedtime ritual. Before turning out the lights she or my brother-in-law often ask their children, “What was your favorite thing about today?” What a beautiful way to send a child off to sleep: not only with a pleasant memory dancing in the mind’s eye, but with the invitation to share it as well.

So, in the spirit of spreading thankfulness, I ask: What was your most positive experience in the past twenty-four hours?

Happy Thanksgiving, and I hope tomorrow (and every day) blesses you with warmth, laughter, and abundance.

~Alicia Bessette

14 Replies to “Counting my blessings”

  1. Smiley memory from the past 24 hours? Hmmmm….how about my kids learning to open their eyes under water, after years of terror at the idea of getting their faces wet at all? And using this new skill to sneak up on me and play “shark!” 🙂

  2. I love your sister’s bedtime ritual. At night when we curl up with our kids, we tell funny stories from their childhood, from our childhoods – and from when their grandparents were young. They love it, and so do we. It makes us so happy to cap off the day with laughter (one of their favorite stories: the dog who was addicted to Juicy Fruit gum and who came to visit my parents, and the time one of my sons, at age 1, put a sausage in the DVD player and turned it on.)

  3. Yesterday a package arrived from an old high school friend of mine that had some wonderful music, several books and a very nice note. I am blessed to have so many good friends – and that most certainly includes Al and Matt. (A special Hi and Happy Thanksgiving to Al’s mom.)

  4. Whenever writers support other writers in a mutually beneficial way it makes me smile, which is why I love The Debutante Ball. Rock on, fellow writers, rock on.

  5. Writing-wise, there are two wonderful teen sisters who have joined together to do some promo for my book on their blogs and I just found out about a bunch of their plans yesterday. That was so nice and I’m so grateful.

    But everyday-wise…at the risk of sound schmaltzy, when my husband and I climb into bed and snuggle up each night, one of us always says, “This is the best part of the day.” and the other one says, “Except for all the other best parts.” And then we usually recap the nice bits of the day together. Most of the time, they’re just ordinary things like cooking dinner or having friends drop in.

  6. Hi Alicia,
    my motto is the following:
    Every day is a gift, that’s why we call it “the present”.That helps a lot when you are not too satisfied with things around you.
    Although it’s not always easy to find something nice every day it is possible!
    Thank you for the wonderful chance to take part in your conversation.
    Have a nice Thanksgiving Day tomorrow!!

  7. Listening to Therese Walsh’s interview on the radio. As expected she has a lovely warm voice just like the one I felt while reading THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY. What a treat to be able to hear her.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  8. 7 weeks ago I was paralyzed hitting the bottom head first. A young man training to be a fireman pulled me out of the water, holding my neck still. I was in the trauma center for a few days but I was soooo lucky becuase I had only torn ligaments in my neck. Today I surfed some pretty big waves with my oldest friends. So, I’m pretty darn thankful for God watching over me.

  9. now that the holiday is over, I will say that I am thankful that the holiday is over. Something about sweaters and tense family relationships have resulted in my general lack of enthusiasm for thanksgiving. that and being a vegetarian at a time of year where even news reports delight in the factory farming of turkeys. how sad!

    As for being thankful, I’m thankful for my dog sable who is a continual source of hilarity. also, i’m thankful that my wife has been very healthy and happy this year during our first pregnancy. may baby Cletus* be an unstoppable force of joy and hilarity starting in 2010!

    * Cletus will be thankful that we rename him once he bursts forth into the world. For now, Cletus rhymes with fetus and we’re sticking with it.

  10. Last night, while I was working late in the living room, Annie kept coming in on mysterious errands. When I went to bed, she’d made my bed (yes, I confess, I hadn’t done so) and topped it with a note and a drawing and a Dunkin’ Munchkin. I wouldn’t trade that for a mint on a silk pillow at the Ritz. HOW did I get such a wonderful kid?
    Second, I’m grateful that tonight I get to see Alicia & Matt!

  11. Forgot to say I’m also grateful the boyfriend survived: Thanksgiving dinner with my family, dessert with my outlaws (don’t ask), and running the gauntlet with my divorce support group (all of us past it and dating new folks who have to go through the initiation). He actually enjoyed himself. He’s a keeper.

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