In Oasis, both Lise and I took the challenge. We both put boxes on our desks and at the end of each day would think of something we were grateful for, write it down, and post it in the box.
I found that having a colleague doing the same challenge really helped – we reminded each other about it and checked in to see how we were doing. And at the end of 21 days we got together and read all of the notes to each other.
What did we discover? Several themes emerged. For both of us the back end of the year was very busy with a lot going on at work and out of work, as we prepared to spend Christmas with our families.
There were also added stresses – illness was a constant presence.
So, the things we were grateful for reflect this. Lise was grateful for her health; I was grateful for the NHS.
We were both grateful for friendship – whether that was sharing a bottle of wine with good friends, or thinking about the resilience of friends and enduring friendship.
There were some practical things that were prompted by the weather – taxis and warm clothes that protected us from the winter cold and rain.
And for me, some small moments – a beautiful sunrise on the way to work, a reminder of a friend, a lovely cup of tea. Acknowledging these really gave me a lift. Both Lise and I picked out Fridays and the promise of a lie-in on Saturday as something to be thankful for – perhaps a reflection of just how busy our working week was!
Also, we really noticed the kindness of others – small actions that we really noticed – getting a lift home; a stranger offering their help; a team member willing to be flexible. Remembering and acknowledging these actions at the end of the day, rather than them getting lost in the general rush of day-to-day life, really helped me feel better.
And Lise particularly noticed people acknowledging the importance of relationships at Christmas – through unexpected Christmas presents, a special visit, or requests to spend time with us.
Both of us felt it was a bit early to say whether this challenge had boosted our self-esteem, physical or mental health, but we definitely enjoyed it and noticed benefits. Lise said: “I found it really useful to write things down as a reminder that I do have a lot to be grateful for. If I look for things in a more conscious way, I feel a lot better.”
I also noticed this reframing – I was forced to put a positive spin on some days and events that I could easily have only seen as negative. Even very small things were a help to get us through tough times.
And both of us have said we want to continue in one form or another.
One thing I noticed was what helped me form a habit. I found it easy to remember to do this challenge when I was in the office. There was a box on my desk to remind me and I did it every day before I went home. It was less easy to remember at the weekend and over the Christmas holiday – even though I’d taken the box home and it was on the kitchen table. It wasn’t part of my routine.
So, the daily reminder – seeing the box – and then the cue – packing up to go home – were what helped. I’ll be taking this knowledge into my attempts to stick to my New Year’s resolutions.