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a gratitude practice can change your life

Many years ago, when I was in my late 20′s, I found myself going through a really rough patch — I was in the throes of a divorce, I was studying for the bar exam, and I had just been laid off from my very first law job.  Life was incredibly bleak, and I was at the point of giving up.

One night, when I was at a particularly low point, I thought to myself, “if I can come up with just one good thing that happened today — just one good thing — I’ll consider life worth living another day.”

So I thought.

And I thought.

And finally, I remembered that I cooked myself a hard-boiled egg that morning for breakfast, and it was pretty near perfect.  “That’s dumb,” I argued with myself. “You just said it had to be one good thing, you didn’t say it had to be awesome,” I argued back.  And so, I counted it.

Since that night, in 16 years there hasn’t been a single night when I’ve not able to come up with one good thing.  Sometimes my Good Thing is relatively unimpressive — for example, I uncharacteristically made my bed, and it felt good getting into a made bad that night — but sometimes, my One Good Thing is awesome, like going hot-air ballooning.  Nonetheless, what I’ve learned is that by developing a gratitude practice, my life, overall, has become more joyful, just because I stop to notice the things that are good.  And honestly, when things aren’t going so well, it has become a practice that has sustained me through the tough times.

The second thing that I’ve learned is that my photography has really helped fuel my practice of gratitude.  Since I shoot practically every day for my personal site, Chookooloonks, and I like to only shoot what I find is beautiful, in many ways the mere practice of taking the time to photograph my surroundings forces me to take stock of the good in my life.   And the best part?

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to use the camera as a tool to capture the things you’re grateful for.

Which brings us to this site:  welcome to Bliss Your Heart*, where every Friday (“Gratitude Friday”?) I’ll share a list of images  from the previous week that represent what I’ve been grateful for.  Sometimes, if I’m happen to be traveling, the images might be exotic; most of the time, however, my images might be of more ordinary, everyday things, but things for which I’m grateful, nonetheless.  And because this is a community, I would invite you to share with me in the comments links to images of things in your life for which you’re grateful from the previous week.  Simply upload your images somewhere online (your blog, if you have one, or any of the myriad of image hosting sites, like Flickr.com, for example), and leave the URL in the comments to share what your grateful for.

And watch as you start to look for the awesome in your life without even thinking about it.

 

And so, let’s get started!  This past week, I returned from an amazing trip to Kenya, unpacked, re-packed, and left for a quick getaway to San Diego with my family (where I also spoke at the BlogHer conference).  Here’s what I’ve been so grateful for:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, let’s see what wonderful has happened in your world this week!  Please leave a comment with the link to your image(s) below.

See you next week!

 

*  When I was trying to come up with a name for this blog, I called my friend Jenny Lawson for suggestions.  I told Jenny that the blog was intended to be a gratitude practice, and on a whim, Jenny asked her 6-year-old daughter Hailey, what she thought a good name for the site should be.  Without hesitation, Hailey said, “Bliss your heart!”  Clearly, there was no way I wasn’t going to use such a brilliant suggestion.

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