Practicing Everyday Gratitude at Home

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Christine Lu)

I’ve been making a conscious effort lately to practice gratitude in my daily life. Maybe it’s due to the holiday season, but I mostly attribute it to something I read in passing on my Facebook feed a few weeks back. It was predictably cheesy and went something like this:

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At school, you were dying to graduate so you could work.
At work, you were dying to start a family.
With children, you were dying for them to start school so you could get back to work.
Now, you’re dying and you realize that your life has passed you by.

As much as I wanted to scroll on by, the quip hit a nerve, sounding uncomfortably familiar. The gist of it stuck and a few weeks later is still acting as a daily reminder to appreciate each moment for what it is instead of constantly looking forward, beyond the present. This is pretty general, but looking critically at my daily life has also led me to recognize two ways in which I was already practicing everyday gratitude at home:

What are you grateful for? This is the question with which we begin each evening meal at home. Having grown up with religious parents, I used to pray before meals. Today, my household is not spiritual but I was missing that sort of formal coming together of the family and thinking about something outside of ourselves. So this habit was formed. By age, we answer this question each day as we sit down to dinner. The answers sometimes describe an aspect of our time away from each other earlier in the day. Sometimes they’re funny and set the tone for a playful evening. And sometimes they’re surprisingly poignant.

It is half of Apartment Therapy. This second habit of gratitude is going to fall on the therapy side of things here at Apartment Therapy. As with most co-inhabitants, my husband and I have our struggles. Those struggles escalate when we focus on tearing down instead of building up. And those same struggles seem to magically dissipate when we thank each other for something simple at the end of the day. “Thank you for putting the kids to bed.” “Thank you for unloading the dishwasher.” We all do, after all, just want to be recognized. Appreciated.

As this Thanksgiving approaches, it is a special time to come together and celebrate in big ways. But may the holiday also serve as a reminder to be thankful in regular, old, daily, home life.

What everyday acts of gratitude do you (or do you want to) practice at home?