I'll be honest: At the beginning of last summer, I wasn't in a good place. I was heartbroken and exhausted, and routinely listening to Shania Twain's Come on Over album to make myself feel better. It wasn't pretty. Then two friends I hadn't seen in a decade invited me to go on a trip, having a somewhat of vague idea of my situation. "You can stay in your own room," one said, "Come whenever you want." I immediately thought of five excuses to get out of it, but I ended up saying yes anyway. And after three days of happily picking up where we left off, I returned home thinking I was exactly where I needed to be.
I should also be upfront and say that nothing immediately improved upon my return, but by actively pushing myself to practice more gratitude, things got better with time. Maybe it took an unplanned trip for me to reevaluate my perspective, but it's also taken months of daily reminders in average settings—like after a long day of work, in the middle of washing dishes, or while trying to exercise—to keep things going. That's why it's best to start now.
Mister Rogers was full of thought-provoking lines, but lately I've gravitated toward this one: "Nobody else can live the life you live." So ahead of Thanksgiving, here are 101 things to be thankful for so you can start practicing positive thinking, too. The truth is, there's always some beauty in life to uncover, and you're exactly where you need to be in order to find it.
A bed to wake up in.
All of your teeth.
A favorite song that you know all the lyrics to.
When the light turns green just as you were approaching it.
Finding a seat on public transportation.
A particularly flattering haircut.
A Slack channel filled with funny GIFs.
A phone with all of the notifications turned off (except for texts, of course).
The last page of an absorbing book.
A Twitter joke that just gets you.
A genuine compliment.
Getting a text message or phone call from someone you love.
A really good memory of falling in love.
Road trips with the windows down.
The way a breeze billows a curtain.
Laughing so hard you can barely breathe.
Making someone else laugh so hard they can barely breathe.
Witnessing someone experience success.
The character-building merits of your awkward phase.
Hearing your mom's voice.
Hearing your dad's voice.
Joking with your siblings.
Opening the front door and seeing your pet.
A big blanket on the couch.
All appliances that save time, especially laundry machines.
Coffee—and giant mugs.
Trying food off someone else's plate.
An act of kindness from a stranger.
A mutual "hello" shared by strangers.
Outfit inspiration from a stranger.
When a stranger becomes someone you know and then someone you trust.
Burritos. No, wait, tacos. Okay, tacos and burritos.
Salsa, hot sauce, ketchup, and all condiments in general.
Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.
The fact that leggings became an acceptable form of pants.
Gayle King and Oprah Winfrey's friendship.
Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman's friendship.
Loving your flaws—and not needing anyone else's approval.
A schedule of no plans.
Checking everything off a to-do list.
Bon Appétit headlines.
Setting an out-of-office automatic response for your email account.
A wedding dance floor.
Hugs from friends and family.
Seeing an old friend again and picking up right where you left off.
A support system by way of group text.
The memory of an influential teacher.
Pie with whipped cream. And ice cream.
The fact that everyone takes the same photo of their food on Thanksgiving.
A neighborhood stroll.
A bring-the-house-down karaoke performance.
Childhood friends and shared memories.
Unexpectedly finding money in a pocket.
When the thing you want to buy finally goes on sale.
Thinking, Oh, wow, I thought it was just me.
Also thinking, I'm glad I wasn't the only one.
When someone or something lives up to your expectations.
An unplanned adventure.
The beauty of saying no.
Confidently going outside of your comfort zone, knowing that fortune favors the bold.
Crisp mountain air.
Letting go of the past (and not even noticing).
A bouquet of flowers.
I Love Lucy reruns.
The backdrop of community in a city park.
Knowing that most people are doing the best that they can (or trying to remember that, anyway).
The perfect dress.
Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou.
Seeing a movie in a theater.
Getting a friendly letter or postcard in the mail.
The combination of drinks and patios.
A nostalgic bottle of perfume.
Picnics under a big tree.
The thrill of an amusement park ride.