on january 31, 2012 i added a ritual to my daily regimen. this daily routine happened before anything else each day (well before anything else that wasn't my morning pee and weigh-in). every day began the same. wake. pee. weigh-in. sit at my desk. unlock my computer. open my life spread. click on the second tab of the sheet (the 1st tab is the dashboard). once there, i would write three things i was thankful for. one thing from today, one thing from yesterday, and one thing from my past. i rarely missed a day, oftentimes even doing them when on vacation.
i read about this somewhere i can't recall. the notion was simple enough. many of us have many things to be thankful about but rarely take much time to acknowledge these things. this ritual was meant to give three of these things a nod every morning and start my day honoring some cool stuff in my life. for me this was an exercise that brought very immediate rewards, meaning i didn't have to do it for three to six weeks before starting to feel anything from them.
after i'd been doing them for a year or more i shared the ritual with someone who was feeling down about their life. while talking about it a third party sitting with us scoffed at the ritual, calling it a bunch of new age, hand-holding nonsense. it usually takes me a little bit of time to come up with good responses to things but on this occasion my mind proffered an answer to this fellow straight away. i asked him if he thought beginning each and every day remembering three unique times in his life where he got screwed over or wronged might taint his day's view with a negative light. he grudgingly agreed that might, stressing the 'might'. i thanked him for playing and turned to the person i was speaking to who wasn't a sour asshole.
while thankfuls have been a for sure rock star in my arsenal of productivity and fulfillment tools, in time i found a gaping hole in the tactic. what got left out or minimized were the super big things that make my life stratospherically awesome. the things that don't float in from day to day but the constant things that make my life not just good but reasonably extraordinary. examples of a few pulled off the top would include:
the above items are a little different from a basic thankful in that they mean way more. by way more i mean the world i enjoy would collapse, fully, around me if ANY ONE of those items were removed from me. not all of them or some of them. a single one of them. that is how meaningful each one of them are. i can be thankful for a sunny day or lunch with a friend but if either of those didn't happen, my day/life wouldn't be ruined. but if you took away my ability to walk or learn or know that my children were safe, my day would be pretty wrecked. or if i came home to find my wife gone, that would probably equate to a pretty bad day, week, month, and year. or if i was told someone in my family had a month to live. or was killed that day in an auto accident. or if planes started flying overhead and randomly dropping bombs in my community. i reckon i'd have a few less relaxing thoughts in my day. so for these facets of my life that mattered so much, i decided, i needed something a little more significant than an occasional thankful to acknowledge their presence in my life, so i created a new category in my LIFE spreadsheet for what i call MY DAILY AWESOME.
- my physical health.
- my mental health.
- my faithful and supportive wife.
- the physical health of my children.
- the mental health of my children.
- the structured society i live in.
- the amount of choice and control i have in my life.
these are the things that were you to take a single item away, any item, the world you know and enjoy would collapse so completely each and every day thereafter wold be less than today. with them safely in hand, you have a bountiful amount of freedom and riches to enjoy given they are part of your life.
so now every day in addition to my thankfuls for blue skies, bike rides, or some other daily goodness, i also select one of my life's many awesome features to recognize and honor that day. i will often write this daily awesome on my hand to help me remember the item of the day. when i get to the bottom of my known awesomes i'll just return to the top and start hugging them anew.
Note: apologies for the poor quality and composition of the family photo. this was taken in a pinch by a girl who, clearly, had a few too many drinks. that said, marty got super-robbed in the pic so we'll need to make up for that. the pic, also clearly, was meant to be an homage to our2010 holiday image.