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.


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.


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.


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.


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:

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