Welcome to How to Keep Writing Wednesdays, where you'll find a boost of encouragement to help you keep the words flowing.

Cultivating Gratitude

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.

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. The 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.