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2019: A Year of Gratitude

brightly coloured flowers

A new year sparks excitement for me. I usually set myself a few (too many) goals, make lists of places I’d like to visit and bedrooms I’m itching to redecorate.

This year has been different. I’ve found it difficult to get my butt in gear and I have no goals other than to read a bit more in 2019. But you know what? I feel oddly okay about that.

One thing I have done, is choose my word for 2019. As with most years, the word I’ve chosen is a theme that I felt drawn to towards the end of last year – Gratitude.

In early December, I started using Instagram Stories to share three things that I was grateful for at the end of every day. I know it’s not a new concept and many of you probably do it already, but it’s been such a good discipline for me.

Life has been a bit challenging lately and this exercise has really helped my mindset. The sharing on social media isn’t a necessity of course, but it is bringing a level of accountability that I find valuable. The fact that a few other people have been inspired to join in, has been an added bonus.

When Everything Goes to Pot

You may remember that my ‘one word’/theme for 2018 was Balance. As part of that, I set about trying to address my phone usage. Whilst I managed to do that to a certain degree, partly due to my job (managing other people’s social media accounts) but mostly because phones are highly addictive, things have slightly gone to pot.

In the spirit of honesty, my daily phone usage over the Christmas period, was a little under 6 hours – quite shocking huh?

One of the things that I discovered during my phone analysis exercise last year, is that I largely use it for distraction – when I don’t want to ‘feel all the feels’, my phone comes out. This is a habit that I have slipped back into over the last two months or so and I think that this year’s theme of ‘Gratitude’ will help me make a few changes.

Let me explain…

When was the last time you sat down to drink a cup of tea and just contemplate?

I was listening to a podcast the other day (I think most of my blog posts contain that sentence somewhere!), an interview between the lovely Fearne Cotton and Kirsty Young. These two inspirational ladies, talk at great length about social media – the pros and the cons.

I don’t need to tell you that I’m an advocate for social media. I love what it brings to my life – connection with others, easy access to knowledge and a way to find out what my teenagers are up to! But I am also massively aware of the pitfalls.

Kirsty isn’t on social media at all *gasp* (who in this day and age isn’t on social media?!). What’s more, she doesn’t feel that she’s missing out in any way; in fact she’s positively confident that she has made the right choice.

The part that played on my mind, was when Kirsty talked about ‘the good old days’ and how people would phone a friend simply to tell them about the delicious cup of tea they had just enjoyed. Nowadays, we look for that same ‘buzz’ from scrolling through Instagram or our Facebook feed.

In short, with the arrival of social media, we have somehow lost the art of just sitting in the moment, recognising that ‘this is a good cup of tea’. I very much doubt that I’m the only one who reaches for their phone every time they sit down.

It’s All About the Simple Things

The things I’ve been sharing at the end of every day, are some of the more simple things in life – a hug from a friend, the pink sky on my drive home from work, cuddles with my dog. A bit like that ‘delicious cup of tea’ that Kirsty mentioned.

Whilst there are some big benefits to social media (the accountability I mentioned above and the community aspect), I’ve been reminded once again, how important it is to keep the balance in check.

Putting my phone down is going to feature heavily in my 2019. Constantly looking at what other people are doing can be at best distracting and at worst a source of discontent. I want to focus on the simple things in life, whilst learning to be ‘in the moment’. I’m slowly realising that the combination of these are a springboard for gratitude.

Have you got a ‘word’ for 2019 or a particular goal? If you haven’t, remember that’s okay too! 

Inside, Outside & Beyond

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10 COMMENTS

  • Sarah MumofThree World

    Good luck with it! I’m just the same as you for using my phone for distraction. I can and do go hours without looking at it, but then I will have a couple of hours where I’m on and off it constantly. I might surprise you by joining in with your three things to be grateful for at some point.

  • Plutonium Sox

    I totally agree with you about the phone thing. That said, it also has the opposite effect for me. Sometimes I notice a beautiful sky or a delicate flower because I know I can take a beautiful photo of it because I’ve got my phone with me. I like the idea of your three things to be grateful for each day. I don’t think I’d manage to remember to do it though! What we have started doing though is every day over dinner, we all tell each other one good thing, one bad thing, one thing we’ve been grateful for and one kind thing we’ve done for someone else. It’s a good way to both get the children thinking about appreciation and kindness and get them talking to us about their day.
    Nat.x

  • Gail

    I listened to that podcast with Fearne and Kirsty not so long ago too, Suzanne, and I was struck by the same things you were. The fact that we might now be reaching for our phones to help us actually get the feeling we want from an experience is worrying, for sure. I’m with you, it’s all about getting the right balance when it comes to social media. My word for the year is ‘grow’, purely because I want to keep learning and improving. I think the books, the podcasts -and reading inspirational blogs like yours all help! xx

  • BLEKE

    Suzanne,

    You’ve made a good, and counter-cultural, move by choosing “gratitude” as your word for the year.
    I’ve never chosen a word for the year until now, but on 2 January I decided to make “focus” my word for 2019 and 2020. When I chose it, I didn’t realise that “focus” had been Stressy Mummy’s word for 2018. It seems to have worked out well for her. I hope “gratitude” works out every bit as well for you.
    Louise George has been giving us all an object-lesson in practising gratitude [https://littleheartsbiglove.co.uk/365daysofgratitude-2019-week-2/] even in the most difficult of circumstances.

  • Natalie

    Lovely post Suzanne, it’s a tough one isn’t it, before I started my blog a few years ago I wasn’t on social media and I found life much easier. Whilst I begrudgingly set up my Instagram and Facebook to grow my blog I definitely suffer with anxiety and constantly compare myself to others now I have it. Of course it also brings so many opportunities and friendships to my life. I think it will always be a love hate relationship for a lot of people. Xx

  • Heledd

    I go through phases with my phone, over Christmas I went days without even looking at it and other days I’m literally o and off it all day.
    Although, I couldn’t really come off social media completely I do understand what Kirsty is saying – and after the initial loss, I think I’d be the same.
    Happy New Gratitude Filled Year xx

  • jenny

    It’s a hard one between wanting to do more in the blogging world for me and wanting to be off line more for my family I struggling to find time enough to do either good enough. I know life seemed simpler before and less stressful when I wasn’t on social media and yet I love what I do. Love this post and so many great things to put for a new year ahead hunny. Happy New Year.!

  • Mum Reinvented

    It’s all too easy to start the new year off with a thousand lists isn’t it? I know I’m certainly prone to doing so. But this year, while I know what I want to achieve, I haven’t gone as far as getting it down on paper (or blog) and I’m enjoying taking my time over it. It’s true we’ve lost the art of simple contemplation. And I often find myself telling the teen how in the ‘good old days’ before social media and mobile phones we used to do this or that, we made more of an effort because we had to physically get there/do something (rather than clicking a button on a phone and it appears before us) I guess and lived in the moment much more. I started reading The Magic on a recommendation from someone on instagram (says the woman who just mentioned the days before social media) and although it’s a little hard to get into doing, I’m finding it is making me take the time to appreciate the things that otherwise might have passed me by that day. And your instagram gratitude exercise helps me do that too – infact I’m off to do that now I’ve commented ha!

    I hope 2019 is a happy and healthy year for you all x

  • Kerri-Ann

    Aww Suzanne I am sorry this is how you have been feeling. I’m the opposite when it comes to a holiday or say a break at Christmas I am so happy to put my phone aside. Same as the weekends, as I have George and SImon to distract me. I am my worst of an evening. You mentioned sitting with a drink and contemplating, I do this every morning before I train. I wake up 15 mins early so that I can have a coffee and just be quiet without distraction. I love your word for 2019 and hope that it is realised throughout the year

  • I think recognising the reasons behind why we do certain behaviours (like endlessly scrolling) is key to being able to choose to change them. You’ve already taken the first steps of realisation and acknowledgment, which is great, and I hope you’re able to continue making the choices that work best for you as the months go by. It’s hard to stick to when life gets tricky, though usually that’s exactly when it’s most important to stick to it. Gratitude for the simple things really does seem to be vital in our overall sense of personal wellbeing and happiness doesn’t it? I’ve chosen my intention for the year though I’ve not written about it yet – it’s going to be an interesting and quite challenging one for me I think.

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