'Tis the Season to be Grateful 

by Jaclyn McCabe November 24, 2020

 photo by Kathleen Flynn

There are so many things I love about this time of year. Crisp weather allows me to dig into my jacket collection (which is way more extensive than any Southerner needs.) The farmer's market is filled with equal parts citrus and squash. And with gratitude on the tip of everyone's tongue, it's almost impossible to be in a bad mood. 
So how can we take this serotonin-filled season and make it stretch the rest of the year?
All the smart psychologists, theologians, and genuinely happy people all point to gratitude as the answer.
My key for adding gratitude to my day is to share it with a select few friends. Several years ago, when I was about to move across the country, a friend casually remarked, "Oh, I'll have to add you to the g-list." 
The next day, when I received a "g-list" email sent to me and three other women (only one of whom I actually knew), I didn't think much about it. But the next day, another list of ten things someone was grateful for arrived in my inbox, and the same thing happened the following day. 
Some of the gratitudes were funny, some were simple, and yet there were always one or two that would make me think, "Gosh, she really had to do some work to flip that into a gratitude." I could see something magical happening in the email chain, but I couldn't quite name it. 
So I joined in. I'm not sure what the first ten gratitudes I shared with these then-strangers were, but I do remember feeling better afterward. And after a few weeks, I could name the magical thing that was happening. 
To paraphrase the diarist Anaïs Nin we don't see things as they are, we see things through a filter made up as we are. So if I'm looking through a filter that tells me life is hard, everything I come across in my day feels challenging. But if I'm looking through a gratitude filter, everything I come across feels like an opportunity. 
The magic of the "g-list" is that it forces me to pause, review my last couple of days, and filter the events through a gratitude filter. And suddenly, it all feels like an opportunity. 
And after years of marking time through gratitude, I can no longer call these women strangers. We've filtered every aspect of our lives—the heavy, the amusing, the challenging, and the dull. We've learned from each other, exchanged self-care tips and book recommendations, and commiserated over life's ups and downs.
So here's my Thanksgiving challenge for you: find a small group of women and start your own "g-list."  You can make up your own rules; for example, maybe it's three gratitudes, not ten.
Maybe it’s a more meaningful way to connect with old friends who don't live nearby than over social media. Or maybe you simply use it as a new way to connect during this socially distanced time we find ourselves in. Either way, every time you open your email, there'll be a list of happy things waiting for you. 
Hit me up if you have any "g-list" ideas or want to share today's gratitude with me, I love to hear them. 

Jaclyn McCabe
Jaclyn McCabe