Welcome to Micro Monday, where you get a quote and a writing prompt every Monday to help you build a portfolio of work. This week: gratitude.
Quote of the Week: “This is a wonderful day. I have never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou
Writing Prompt of the Week: In 10 minutes or less, write down eight things that went really well for you this year.
If you’re new to micro and writing with me, check out this post here. If you’d like to read some micro narratives filled with grace, Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s anthology, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments, is a wonderful place to start.
Every day is a chance to get our gratitude in gear. The terms “gratitude,” “being grateful,” and “giving thanks,” have become so commonplace that we can go through the motions without really feeling what it means—not just for others, but for ourselves.
Don’t guilt yourself into gratitude. Don’t feel bad for what you have because others have less. Feeling like you “should” do/say/give more is not the spirit of true grace. True grace is an inside-out job. It asks that we celebrate what we have, that we get happy about the things that have gone right for us, because happiness is a natural expression of thankfulness.
Gratefulness Through Happiness
Happy people make better decisions. Happy people see opportunities, are open to creative alternatives, feel expansive and curious rather than careful or closed. They are content, enthused, encouraged, and inspired. Happy people are in a better position to help others, and they’re not surprised when things work out—in fact, they kind of expect it. More importantly, happy people want other people to be happy, too. Generosity comes easily and naturally for people who are happy. They see life as abundant, not scarce.
So how do you get happy? By recognizing and acknowledging the things that have gone well for you.
Write it Down
Writing down eight things that have gone well for you this year will only take 10 minutes—if the timer goes off, you can stop, but I’ve found that almost everyone can get it done in 10 minutes or less
They key is to actually write them down. Don’t just think about them—commit them to paper. Seeing them in black and white will really bring them home. Nobody has to see it other than you.
Remember moments that made you smile or, better yet, burst out in laughter? It can be something small, too. A better mortgage rate? An unexpected trip? A great round of golf or a swim with a friend? What about a job you really enjoy, or someone in your tribe who’s always rooting for you? Reconnecting with an old friend or relative? Your cat. The dog next door. Your partner. A small patch of garden you can finally call your own. There is nothing superficial about these things. Joy starts small and then has a way of taking over.
Make today different by remembering the awesome things that are happening in your life Then give thanks, because one or more of these things might bloom into more writing for you. The best personal essays (and micro essays) carry an emotional thread that’s universal and relatable. Gratitude will help get you there.
If you enjoyed this exercise and want to make gratitude journaling a daily practice, check out this guide to get you started. Inspired by today’s writing exercise? Use these memoir writing prompts to further develop your ideas.
If you’d like to share your eight things, drop them into the comments below. Until next time, write well!
This post originally appeared in Darien’s column, The Writer’s Corner, in North Hawaii News, and has been gently modified for writer-ish.com.