Project HDM: 10 Years

Ten years.  Yes, it’s been a decade of posting a Happy Day Moment on my Facebook page. April 1, 2010 to April 1, 2020.  Yes, that’s 3,650 consecutive days of discovering and recording a “moment” each day that reminded me to be grateful, to live with gratitude. {Yes, you can applaud/throw confetti/send chocolates and/or vacation packages …. 😊}

Why did I begin this social media project?

With so many Facebook posts that were negative, complaining, even whining, I was determined to use my status as a more positive platform.

My goal for this project was to make myself focus on some “moment” during each day where I could be positive, thankful, and “happy” that I was alive. To slow down. Just for a bit. And be grateful.

Throughout these postings, I’ve experienced days with moments of love, joy, celebration, laughter, happiness – unexpected moments. But I’ve also had some days that were really crummy and achy and some that were soaked in sadness, loss, sickness, grief and disappointments.

In every day, yes, every day, however, I found that “moment” that I could call forth as “happy.”

This experiment has been profound for me. For most of my life I’ve had a glass-half-full attitude, even when a diving accident as a 13-year-old left me a diagnosed quadriplegic. I’ve learned what being grateful can do, embracing each day. Life can be hard. I know.  But every day that I choose to look for the happy, the good, the blessing, the love, the joy – shifts my heart and my head into a better place. A place of gratitude.

Quite simply, it’s become my tool to keep track of the good things in life. No matter how difficult and defeating my day can sometimes feel, there is always a “moment,” something to feel grateful about. We can all be grateful.

While it’s tough to find that “moment,” that “something” to be grateful about during a rough patch, it’s not just another “easy to say, but hard to do” action – it can actually help rescue you during a storm.

Even more than that, regularly finding a “moment” and identifying the good things in your life can help prepare and strengthen you to deal with unexpected heartache and pain.

We all have own challenges and difficult days. Yet, even in my darkest days, my instinct is to feel grateful for the things that I do have and for the things that are going well. I let gratitude be the doorway to hope; once hopeful, I find strength and the will to take one small step that moves me to better and easier times.

It’s God’s way. It’s who we can choose to be. Grateful.

For in writing good words, for finding “happy” moments and sharing them, I’ve discovered that I’m more thoughtful, more encouraging, more inspired, more aware – of the goodness of life all around me.

I know it’s rather grandiose of me to think that my small little space, my Facebook presence can make a big change in how others think about gratitude, but if I’ve learned anything in the last ten years, it’s that when it comes to talking about living with gratitude, and about how we use our words – we can’t do it enough.

Words. Matter. Even on Facebook.

Words we write. Words we say.

Every year has its negatives, its disappointments, its regrets, its sorrows, its pains, its losses.

Yet, every year (if you choose to discover) has its positives, its joys, its celebrations, its wins.

Some years have more milestones than others: personal physical mental professional relational emotional financial spiritual. Some years prayers are answered; some years there is more waiting.

This identifying and reporting a Happy Day Moment has become a spiritual practice, a habit…and my super power is believing that we can all find a Happy Day Moment. The daily practice, the discipline, the routine of choosing to look for the positive, being grateful, not always focusing on the negative, has changed me. Forever. Strengthened me to face … anything.

I take note of my gratitude for a moment in the day when things are good, or I feel blessed, or I merely remember that I’m alive. Mostly, the moments are tiny and commonplace, not usually moments of grandeur or enormous successes. They are moments of small human connection, that smile, that morning kiss, or a sudden bit of humor, or a child’s laughter, or the elderly couple holding hands, or the glimpse of a cardinal on a branch, or even a moment of peace during a hectic day. Then, sometimes they really are monumental moments: 30 years married; 35 years married; births of grandchildren; husband’s retirement; new job; son’s career and new home; Cubs win the World Series.

Throughout these years, however, I’ve noticed that I’m capable of finding happy moments smack in the middle of the tough and painful and hurting and grieving moments. The comfort from a friend when I’m sad can be a happy moment, right in the midst of a very hard time. The kindness of someone bringing a cup of coffee when I’ve had a stressful and exhausting day can be a happy moment. The prayers from those who know my heartache can be a happy moment.

Yes, life is still good and there can still be gratitude, even when difficult stuff happens. This practice doesn’t shield me from the hard times or a denial that dark times will always exist, but acknowledging my “moment” brings me unshakable joy and gratitude for the miracle that is my life.

Becoming aware of a happy day moment takes a personal effort, paying attention to the instances of the blessings of life, shining a spotlight on the small good things.

It’s impossible to think negatively when you’re focusing on the positive.

It’s impossible to have an attitude of lack when you’re embracing abundance.

It’s impossible to be judgmental, resentful, or quarrelsome when you’re thankful for your relationships.

It’s impossible to miss the lessons when you give thanks for your difficulties and obstacles.

It’s impossible to miss the moment when you’re present and grounded in each one as it comes.

I know I can keep my humor, my perspective, and my patience regardless of how my day (or life) evolves.

The key is gratitude.

After years of leaning into gratitude, I know I’ve only scratched the surface of this powerful principle. I realize my pursuit of gratitude isn’t an accident, as much as preparation for what has come my way during these last few years. Preparing to see me through – because when it comes to the struggles of life, we need gratitude to be our companion.

Because this is what happens:

Words of gratitude lift us above circumstance.

Sometimes the wall of difficulties we face appears too tall to scale. But the presence of gratitude lifts and carries us. We become stronger, more agile, infused with what we need, not just to face the barrier, but to search for a way around or over that we hadn’t considered before.

Words of gratitude refocus our attention.

They change our perspective.  We’re never off on the wrong foot when we step out in gratitude. We can’t think negatively when we focus on the positive. We’re less judgmental, resentful, or divisive when we’re thankful for our relationships (especially the complicated ones). Sometimes it’s easy to focus on our hurts or sorrows and miss all of the other places that good things are happening.  It’s possible for good things and hard things to co-exist in our lives. We show wisdom when we can focus on being thankful and noticing the good, instead of concentrating on the bad.

Words of gratitude bring us joy.

Those who live in gratitude have the most joyful lives. It’s impossible to miss the joy when we’re on the lookout for blessings. We won’t miss out on the moments when we’re present and rooted in each one as it comes.

Words are powerful. Even words written in a Facebook post.

Let’s make our words a powerful happy mission.

Let’s unleash the power of gratitude.

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