Gratitude Makes You a Better Person (and Writer)

I recently completed a Twitter challenge called #100happydays (thanks to some prompting from @PlastiCastle). Using the hashtag, you are encouraged to find something to be grateful every day for 100 days. Even though not all of my days during this period were entirely happy, being actively grateful for the little things has helped make me a better person and writer over the last three and a bit months.

I’m often quite pessimistic, but being forced to think about the happy things in my life was incredibly rewarding. Sometimes it was big events, but generally I took note of the little things, like delicious food, good company, productive days, or relaxed afternoons.

Writers sometimes find it too easy to dwell on the negative things. Our hardships contribute to us being good writers, allowing us to fill our stories with emotional and relatable characters. All stories need some sort of conflict and our own life experiences can act as great inspiration for that. But to be well-rounded writers, and people, we need to make sure we regularly look beyond the negativity.

Characters need more than just conflict and negativity in their lives to be relatable; they also need little celebrations and big successes. We need to write about people who are excited that they actually got out of bed when their alarm went off, or that they didn’t procrastinate over the laundry, and identifying these moments of triumph in our own lives can help us insert them into the lives of our characters. We each need to make searching for these happy moments a habit.

It takes 21 days to form a habit, and about 21 days into the #100happydays challenge I didn’t need to prompt myself to think of something positive that had happened. Even though I don’t have to post these moments on Twitter anymore, I know I will still reflect every night on the positives from my day. The #100happydays challenge held me accountable for 100 days, and now I’m remembering to be grateful on my own.

Apparently you can’t be anxious while you’re looking for something to be grateful for. Apparently it doesn’t even matter if you find something, all that matters is that you try. As somebody with a busy, stressful life, reduced anxiety and increased gratitude has only improved my outlook on life. And that’s what I’m grateful for today, Day 101 of #100happydays.