As a tradition, each year, I set the goal to read 13 books, at the very least. The more the merrier, but at least 13.
I got this idea from a friend a few years ago and for the most part I have been good at it. I also started tracking the books in 2011 on Good Reads and it’s been nice to see my progress and the records of the challenges completed per year… except for 2012.
I am not totally sure what happened with my reading goal this particular year, but I only got to 9 books. Looking back, 2012 was also the year I was training, for about 5 months, to do a 50 mile bike ride with friends to collect funds for the American Diabetes Association. I am not using this as an excuse for not reading enough books, but I realize a lot of those weekends were spent riding a bike, and not reading. I don’t regret one second of that training. Preparing for that ride was one of the coolest experiences I’ve had, and it brings a big smile every time I think about it.
Coming back to the reading tradition, early 2017 I downloaded an e-book from the local library called the Gratitud Diaries by Janice Kaplan.
I have read other books about gratitude and happiness, and all things felicity per se. I am very curious about how these two feelings are not mutually exclusive. They work hand in hand, and when one shows up, the other one shows up too.
The book is interesting and brings up a lot of data about health implications for someone who tends to lean on the positive side, as well as those who, not even intentionally, default to see things from the dark side.
The book also mentions that a good way to stay on the optimist side of things, it’s to write down, ideally daily, what you are grateful for. It’s a really good practice actually, it makes you mindful and more present in the now.
I have heard about this exercise as well in this talk about happiness by professor Tal Ben-Shahar: Video Happiness 101
It is a great talk and even though I have watched it a couple of times, there are many good lessons and ideas to put into practice that I forget sometimes. It’s worth revisiting from time to time.
The idea is to write anything you are grateful for, it doesn’t have to be something remarkable or necessarily life changing, but something that gives you joy. It can be as simple as a pretty view, or a flower on the path. The big moments also count of course, but there are so many reasons to be thankful for.
Writing it down makes you appreciate all that is surrounding you and that one way or another holds you up through life.
Basically, it pulls you away from entitlement, which is the worst attitude. When we take things for granted we lose sight of gratitude.
“Gratitude takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder”. -Thomas Merton
There are quite a bit of benefits to being an optimist, not just your mental health and sanity, but just for that any “effort” we do to be optimistic counts.
This year I will continue reading about positivity, simplicity and gratitude. Life will have problems, life is unpredictable and the only constant is change, which I am also thankful for because we would be bored if we already knew how life would unfold… Also change brings new opportunities and possibilities.
This year, I will intentionally thank my lucky stars for the wonderful people, moments and things they send my way. I will keep present all the good around me. I had started to write down my gratitude notes last year, it’s nice to do it, it’s a little tricky to be consistent, so I need to work on that.
For now, I will continue reading about positivity, optimism, and gratitude as each day I thank my lucky stars even if I don’t write it down.
If you know of any books I should read about this topic please let me know!