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The Key to a Happier Life is Thankfulness



Over the years I've shared a lot of photos of beautiful Oklahoma skies.


I've usually concentrated on the sunsets, beautiful displays of color and light. As the sun drops behind the ridge, often with storm clouds or sometimes smoke in the air, the sky can be breathtaking. The sun sets as I do the evening chores, and a dramatic sunset is often one of the last things I see as I finish up and go back inside.


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But in the past couple of years I've rediscovered sunrises. Sometimes the sky is bland, blue and cloudless, but other mornings the light is amazing and ever-changing as the sun climbs.

On those mornings I'm often standing on the porch, barefoot and shivering in the morning chill, taking photos of the new day before the perfect light disappears. Timing is everything; in the minutes it would take to find shoes and a jacket, the moment would be gone.


Pastel sunrise


Now that I've rediscovered sunrises, I take a lot of sunrise photos. Some people might say that every morning is the same, but they aren't.  Each one is individual and special, and my photos prove that. Mornings are new beginnings, chances to start over, opportunities to grow, to learn, and to serve others. Each morning is something to be thankful for.


Dramatic blue and gold sunrise


Mornings when there are clouds in the sky often turn out to be the most dramatic.


Sunbeams reach from horizon to the heavens


I love watching the changing sky as the sun reaches toward the horizon. Minute by minute the color changes.


Sunrise with sunbeams


Sometimes sunbeams spread from the horizon to the heavens.


Cotton candy sunrise

Often, like yesterday morning, the clouds remind me of pink cotton candy.

Sunrise


Sometimes, when I look at the photos later, the images reveal hidden surprises like the tiny white crescent moon in this one above. (Can't see it? Click on the photo to enlarge it, then look on the right side, just under the edge of the pink cloud.)


A blue and gold morning


A blue and gold morning.


sunrise


Some sunrises are so dramatic that one photo can't show the whole of it. Yes, those two images were of the same morning sunrise. It's amazing how each half looks different, isn't it? 

In the second or two between taking the two photos, the lighting changed and the intensity of the colors are so different.


sunrise


Each morning is different, as are the days of our lives. Looking at them in a row, like thumbnails on a computer screen, they might look the same, a sea of ordinary. 

But day by day, some are dramatic, others are subtle, some have hidden surprises that we don't notice unless we look closely. Some dawn quietly, others loudly with thunder and lightning. Some are full of molten gold reflections.


sunrise


Each day has something to be thankful for, whether it's a small delight like a tiny sliver of moon, the first rosebud of spring, lunch with a friend... or something big like news of cancer in remission or the birth of a grandchild. No day should be taken for granted.


Sunrise at Oak Hill Homestead


So I encourage you to look closely at every day. Each morning, be thankful for what the day will bring. In the evening, be thankful for the moments you experienced, both big and small.

November is National Gratitude Month, and I hope you'll join me in being thankful each and every day this month. 

In fact, recent studies show that being thankful is good for us. The saying “It's not happy people who are thankful, it's thankful people who are happy” (author unknown) isn't far off.

People who practice gratitude seem to be both happier and healthier. Erin Olivo, a clinical psychologist and Columbia University assistant clinical professor of medical psychology, says that people who have the 'trait' of gratefulness "have stronger social connections and stronger relationships. There’s some evidence that people who are more optimistic or have a grateful attitude have higher immune functioning."

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Projectwrites: "Gratitude brings freedom from envy, because when you’re grateful for what you have, you’re not consumed with wanting something different or something more. That, in turn, makes it easier to live within your means and also to be generous to others." Thankfulness breeds contentment.



How can you live a thankful life?

  • Look small: focus on the little things that make you smile: a child's gift of a dandelion flower, or shoes that fit just right and are oh, so comfortable.
  • Change your focus: instead of complaining about all the dirty dishes to wash, be thankful that you have food to eat and to nourish your body.
  • Make it a habit: identify something you're thankful for every day. Write it down in a notebook or your daily planner. Experts say that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so if you can keep it up during the entire month of November, chances are you'll have a new life-habit!

November Thankfulness Challenge


Join me each day in November as I post on Instagram and Facebook about being thankful. I challenge you to post about something you're thankful for each day in November. You can use any social platform you prefer. There's no penalty if you don't manage to do it everyday, but why not give it a try? Use the hashtag #thankfulgratefulblessed so I can see your posts.

Or use the quick-and-easy, no-photo-needed method: comment on my posts with what you're thankful for that day. I'd love to know!

If you're not following me on Instagram yet, you can find me here. If you prefer to follow along on Facebook, you can "Like" and follow the Oak Hill Homestead Facebook page here to see the daily updates.


Studies show that thankful people are healthier, happier people.

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in You.
Psalm 143:8 NIV



More posts from my gratitude journal:




This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.

~~~~~

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13 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing all of those gorgeous pictures! I often miss our sunrises, and since we are downhill from our neighbors, and their house, trees and barn line the hill, I don't get to see a whole lot of it. But we have the most amazing sunsets here! They are definitely something to be thankful for! Love the idea of a Thankfulness challenge! It's good to remind ourselves of all the wonderful things in our lives!

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    1. Danielle, I'm fortunate to be able to see both the sunrise and sunset from our home, even though the sun rises behind some pretty tall oak trees.

      It truly is a good thing to remember how much we have to be thankful for.

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  2. Terrific perspective, Kathi.

    I am thankful that you have shared your blog articles at The Clever Chicks Blog Hop for so many years. I appreciate you!

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    1. Thank you, Kathy. It has been a good many years, hasn't it?

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    2. It has been a blur! lol Good times for sure. ♥

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  3. Your sunrise photos are beautiful, Kathi, as is this post! I really like your challenge, and have done a couple of days here and there. I do keep a gratitude journal on a regular basis, and I totally agree that thankfulness is key. The Happiness Project is one of my favourite books as well. Thank you so much for sharing this post with Hearth and Soul!! Sharing around, and I hope lots of people will take part!

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    1. Thank you so much, April. I'm glad you're taking part. :-)

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    2. It's a pleasure, Kathi! I haven't managed every day, but I've done a few! I just wanted to let you know that I'm featuring this post at the Hearth and Soul Link party, along with your Instagram Challenge! Thank you again for sharing.

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    3. Thank you so much for the feature, April! I'm glad it inspired you to post a few times, I've enjoyed reading them.

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  4. My neighbor takes sunrise and sunset shots and I always enjoy seeing her photos. Everyday I tell myself 10 things I am thankful for. They may be minor things but important to me and a good reminder. Found you on Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting, Candy. I enjoy the posts you share each week at the hop.

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  5. Kathi, I came over on April's recommendation at #HearthAndSoul. Love your photos. I'm a longtime sky watcher and fan of sunrises (which keeps me from complaining too much about waking up unnecessarily early every day!). I'm not on either Facebook or Instagram (just Twitter), but I shall think of your #thankfulgratefulblessed when I count my blessings each day.

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    1. It's so nice to "meet" someone who also loves watching the beautiful sky, Jean. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. :-)

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