I've decided to start this year with some serious intention. I'm really over life just "happening to me" and going along for the ride. There are things I want to achieve; things I want to manifest for myself. I know the best way to live more intentionally is to also live with more gratitude. So here are a few things I'm going to put into practice for myself and hope this might help you find a better way too, if you're seeking it. Note, this post includes paid links.
How do you find more gratitude? Great question. For me, I'm going look for it everyday. In every interaction. As I get older I realize life goes by in a flash and if we're not willing to stop for a minute and appreciate all we have, all the people in our lives, all the love and kindness we receive in a day, it won't mean a damn thing in the end. All the stuff we accumulate will likely end up being sold off, donated or sadly, in a landfill. So I plan to worry way less about the material stuff and focus more on my loved ones and shared experiences instead.
Read More; Learn More
I'm currently listening to an incredible book on Audiobooks.com called Build the Life You Want by Harvard Professor Arthur C. Brooks and Oprah Winfrey. When it comes to self help and exploration, I am one part woo-woo (as my friend Courtney calls it) and two parts practical, science-based logic. This book is very much grounded in the latter. The idea that I can take practical steps to rewire my brain through the power of metacognition, and find greater happiness, is really exciting to me. I also have 3 other books in the queue. I'm reading Code Name Sapphire, a great story about WWII and a spy network smuggling allied soldiers out of occupied Europe, It's Ok to Be Angry About Capitalism by Bernie Sanders, this one I know will frustrate the heck out of me, so I'm waiting to dive in. And finally, an inspirational story about an incredible man, finding his way by helping thousands of street dogs in Thailand; Hope - How Street Dogs Taught Me the Meaning of Life by Niall Harbison.
A quick note on Audiobooks for those of you who are trying to find more time to read in 2024. We are all so incredibly busy sometimes the idea of finding the focus time to sit down and read feels out of reach. Audible is an easy way to turn your commute, laundry day or other chores into an opportunity to learn or escape into a story. I've found most books are only a few listening hours, which is crazy to me when I realize it often takes me weeks to find the time to actually read one. If you'd like to give Audiobooks a try, signup for a 3 audiobook 30-day free trial to start listening today.
52 Weeks of Gratitude
Step one then, is my plan to log 52 weeks of gratitude. Each and every week I'm going to think of one thing that I felt grateful for. It can be big or small, but I have to have truly felt grateful for the moment or experience of it. I have a pretty glass vase, post it notes and a pen at the ready. I'm already 3 weeks in and whole heartedly plan to keep it up for the year.
On New Year's Eve of this year, I'm going to read every single one of them. I can't imagine a better way to reflect on the year past and bring in a new year feeling full and grateful for all of my experiences. As I get older time is passing more quickly and this feels like the best way to not let it slip away in our daily addiction to 'busy'. I'm going to slow down a little and enjoy the meaningful moments more.
The Power of Setting Intention Through Journaling
I'll readily admit, this isn't something I've tried from a "Dear Diary" perspective. First, the idea that someone might find my diary after I die, and read my unhinged ramblings about how I'm feeling in the moment or random thoughts that pop into my head is quite honestly, terrifying to me. I have journaled, however, with the aim to set out my intentions, goals or generally things I'd like to do or achieve over the coming year. This for me, makes a lot more sense. I've done this for many years in early January, and I can say when I do revisit those lists more often than not I've accomplished most of it. Setting those intentions is what it takes to manifest what I want into my life. This is proof enough for me that what you focus on, you manifest. But this is true for the negative as well. Make sure you don't focus on what you don't want to happen, rather focus on what you do want. Glass half full everyone!
I do plan on retiring in Italy one day, so I have started a bullet journal project for that. This little project has also been an amazing creative outlet for me. I sit for a couple hours with a cup of tea at my dining room table, pull out all my markers and other supplies and journal away. It's focused, creative time and gets me away from my phone or any other screen for that matter.
I've created charts to record my savings, research on the ideal regions, my must-haves in a property and a few other goals I'd like to reach to make this dream a reality. One of which, is to learn to speak Italian. I have a tendency to talk with my hands, so I have that aspect nailed.
WAY Less Social Media = Way More Gratitude
I've started to forget about my phone. There are hours in the day now that I forget to check it. It's been liberating to say the least. Sometimes I find someone has been trying to reach me via text and it's 3 or 4 hours later and I'm just getting to it. I'm not experiencing FOMO (the fear of missing out) and I'm reading more, writing more, creating more. It feels good and I'm grateful for it.
On the other hand, when I do pick up my phone and the inevitable doom scrolling begins I'm immediately back into my old habits. I'm seeing all the things I need (read: want) and what I should be doing to look better, feel younger, live longer, eat healthier, and on and on and on it goes. It's not about appreciating what I have but rather focusing on what I think I don't. This is the opposite to feeling the gratitude I'm seeking.
I fill endless shopping carts with variations of the same black pants I have 3 versions of already in my closet, the new must-have sneaker to add to my other 5 pairs and the millionth pair of perfect little gold stud earrings I really need to buy - in multiples of course, for all holes in my ears. It's positively NUTS and I'm over it. Which leads me to...
Live Intentionally: Buy Less Stuff
In January, I vowed to myself that I would not spend money on stuff. With the exception of necessities like groceries, the moisturizer I ran out of and a small bunch of tulips for $15 to brighten up a gloomy day, I've held strong.
I'm planning a trip to Spain, Portugal and Morocco in late spring and I can't wait! The last time I was in Europe, or anywhere outside of North America, was a trip to Cuba in 2019. I'm really excited to be planning another adventure and having this to look forward to is breaking the monotony of the treadmill I have felt I've been on for the last couple of years.
I'm also excited about the prospect of taking a trip somewhere with my grown up kid. They live in another city, 3,000 kms away from me. I miss them and miss our trips together. We haven't decided if I will go there or they'll come here, but the plan is to travel somewhere from either destination. Not matter what we decide it will be an adventure! Having this quality time, shared experience and making memories is so essential to the human experience.
This is what I'm going to focus on. This is what I'm going to invest my money, my time and my energy on. I'm excited about what's to come this year. If I follow my own advice, I know I'll have a positive influence on how it turns out.
I hope you found some inspiration from this post. It's felt inspiring just writing it. My wish for you is to find more gratitude, purpose, adventures and joy in 2024!