olw · One Little Word (OLW)

Stacey’s One Little Word of 2016

2015 was not my best year ever. In April, my world felt like it was turned upside-down in a matter of 12 hours. Three months later, just as a new normal set in, we found out the child we were expecting no longer had a heartbeat. And if that weren’t enough, I needed to have surgery in October. Unfortunately, I’ve had several setbacks to my recovery, which means I’m not 100% yet. Despite these things, 2015 was not horrendous due to the unwavering support of family, friends, and colleagues.

In November 2015, I participated in 30 Days of Thanks, which is a challenge I’ve done for the past few years. It’s quite simple: post something you’re grateful for every day of November on social media. Despite the lingering pain I had from my surgery, I knew it was important for me to be grateful for what I had.

I noticed my heart felt lighter, even if my body didn’t feel “normal,” every time I expressed my gratitude publicly. Some days I expressed thanks for little things (e.g., the slower pace of Shabbat, FaceTime, my husband taking our daughter out so I can catch up on grading, my daughter’s love of one of my green smoothie recipes), while some days I was grateful for bigger things (e.g., like being able to walk a couple of miles at a reasonable pace, leading professional development with enthusiastic teachers, filling our grocery cart for Thanksgiving, my family).

My One Little Word for 2016 found me while reading the Sunday Review section of The New York Times on a November morning. In “Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier,” Arthur C. Brooks cited multiple research studies that showed choosing to express gratitude led to greater fulfillment and happiness. Brooks implored readers to practice gratitude daily all year long. He suggested:

(1) Start with “interior gratitude,” the practice of giving thanks privately.

(2) Move to “exterior gratitude,” which focuses on public expression.

(3) [B]e grateful for useless things. It is relatively easy to be thankful for the most important and obvious parts of life — a happy marriage, healthy kids or living in America. But truly happy people find ways to give thanks for the little, insignificant trifles.

Retrieved from http://nyti.ms/1MhyT85.

I'm using Marion Deuchars' Let's Make Some Great Art Notebooks to use for my 2016 gratitude journals.
I’m using Marion Deuchars’ Let’s Make Some Great Art Notebooks to use for my 2016 gratitude journals.

By the end of Brooks’ article, I realized GRATITUDE had to be my word for 2016. If this year is going to be better than the last, then I need to make a concerted effort to be grateful in the three ways he described.

While I think I’m good about expressing my thanks towards others when they help me or give me something (I’m pretty quick with handwritten thank you notes!), I’m lacking in the “interior gratitude” department. As a result, I started a gratitude journal in mid-December. I thought it would be a good way for me to get in the spirit of being thankful in a daily and private way.

Once I began my gratitude journal, I realized nothing was too small or insignificant. Anything that struck me as something to be thankful for was worthy of writing down.

My very first gratitude journal entry.
My first gratitude journal entry.

Starting the journal in advance of 2016 helped me to get used to writing in it daily. For instance, I found I didn’t want to limit myself to one thing I was grateful for each day. Therefore, I started writing shorter about three things I was grateful for every day.

Late 2015/Early 2016 --> A peek into my journal. Click on the image to enlarge.
Late 2015/Early 2016 –> A peek into my journal.
Click on the image to enlarge.

I know 2016 will have its ups and downs, but I’m hopeful that having gratitude top of mind will guide me towards a better year. I’m confident being grateful will make me more appreciative of the many things going right in my corner of the world. And let’s be honest, there are many things — big and small — for which I am thankful.

I’d love to know:

  • How do you practice gratitude — internally or externally?
  • What One Little Word are you planning to live by this year?


43 thoughts on “Stacey’s One Little Word of 2016

  1. Stacey, thank you for your honesty and sharing the story of personal struggle. We can all benefit from your thoughts and your optimism. The choice of the word “gratitude” clearly demonstrates your view of life as the glass half full. Sending you warm thoughts as you continue your journey.


  2. Stacey, what a wonderful choice and what a great example for your daughter, too! Mine is ‘attention’. I want to look and listen more carefully, and see where that leads.


  3. Stacey I am sorry for your loss and grateful for your gratitude! I have been away from the blog world a lot in the last few years, consumed by the battle of motherhood vs. career and trying to fit it all in. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for those moments. I am grateful for you and what you started here! For your raw honesty and well crafted words.


  4. There are so many challenges like this. Just a few days ago a friend invited me to join in 29 Gifts: Changing Lives One Gift at a Time. So I took a deep breath and decided to give it a try. It is a wonderful feeling to give of yourself, even if it’s something really small . . . a kind word, a smile, a hug. It’s also got me back in the habit of keeping a journal. It’s something I’ve loved but got “too busy” to do. So already this challenge has helped to change my life for the better.

    Here’s hoping that you have a joyous 2016.


  5. Oh, Stacey. It’s hard to dig deep and display gratitude during so many heartaches, but as you are discovering, being grateful — even for the littlest thing — can be healing and just nourishes your soul. I love this word for you. And those notebooks are just adorable!

    I have my ten year journal that I start and barely finish each year (but it’s a new year and new hope that I’ll do it this year!) Only four lines of text for each day, and I try to include a little gratitude. Also, I have given friends a gratitude journal when they were going through rough times — a perfect gift to redirect their thoughts and be thankful in the midst of darkness.

    My 2016 word is HAPPY! My life can feel stressful-crazy-busy-overwhelming-you name it, and focusing on happiness — just like gratitude — can remind me of what is truly important. You know, “finding my happy” in any moment — I first heard that from you! 😃

    No one ever said this life is easy, but you can sure be grateful for so much! Enjoy your year of gratitude! I know many, many of us are thankful for you, the TWT team, this blog, and your gift of writing so open and honestly.

    Hugs and happy new year!


  6. I’m so sorry.

    Thank you for your tender and brave post.
    You are also helping others by sharing your story and message.

    I’m reminded of one thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp. She has known heartache and tragedy and shares her story and how she embraces a lifestyle of gratitude.


  7. So sorry to hear of your struggling year! From the outside you looked like you moved forward with grace and care. Always nice to have friends and family to help and support. What a great word for this new year and I love the journal idea. I have a daughter who is struggling right now and this might be a great idea for her. Thank you so much for sharing with us! Thinking of you as you move into this new year.


  8. “While I think I’m good about expressing my thanks towards others when they help me or give me something (I’m pretty quick with handwritten thank you notes!), I’m lacking in the “interior gratitude” department.” How true this is for many of us.
    What a testament to resilience your OLW is and will be at year end.
    I am grateful to be following your blog!
    My OneWord2016 is – Next. It speaks to my NEXT life-stage.


  9. This is the perfect word for you this year, Stacey. I know you had a rough, rough year, but from the outside looking in – you handled everything such grace and strength.

    I hope 2016 gives you so much to feel grateful for. Looks like you’re off to a great start!


  10. What an excellent word choice following such a difficult year, Twenty plus years ago, in her annual end of the year message, Queen Elizabeth referred to1992 as her “annus horribilis”. It sounds as though 2015 was that for you. I hope that 2016 is an “annus mirabilis”.


  11. Stacey, You did have one heart crushing year. I am so happy to hear that you found a way to not just survive all the unhappiness but to thrive. Last year my word was light hearted and my year tested that word sorely. This year I have chosen persistence. So I think I will try to persist in being light hearted.


  12. I love your word Stacey, and it does seem like a wonderful one for you. I kept a gratitude journal all during 2014- a really hard year for me- and it was an amazing exercise. I only wrote one thing each day and some days it seemed so small and insignificant, but looking back I realize it was huge. Practicing gratitude is something we can all benefit from, and I look forward to following your journey with your word and learning from you.


  13. Whata thoughtful, heart-felt post. You really touched me. 2015 was a challenge for me as well and altho I did use a gratitude journal for many months, I have fallen away from the practice. Thnak you for reminding me of the power of living with gratitude daily.


  14. Gratitude is a great word to focus on. You do have so much good to see in your life, despite everything. I feel this word will be transformative. I started a happiness journal too. Just one sentence each day is helping me be more “Present.”


  15. Oh, wow, what a terrible year you had. I’m sorry for your loss. That’s devastating!

    I love how choosing that word, gratitude, keeps you looking up, lifting you up to see the positive things in your life. When we’re intentional about staying focused on the positive it helps minimize the dark days.

    This year I chose the word INTENTIONAL to remind me to do something intentional every day that brings value to others. I will pray for you to heal physically and emotionally.


  16. Loss is so hard to feel and it is often even harder to stay in those feelings. I deeply believe that feeling gratitude, a choice we make and remake, is a way through loss and eventually a way to live well. Wishing you the clarity to see the gratitude you compose in your life. I’m inspired by your post.


  17. Stacey,
    I am truly sorry to read about the loss of your baby and having surgery…I’m praying that you are healing from the sadness and pain.

    From what I’ve read here, it sounds like you’ve picked the perfect OLW. I’ve got to start writing again as I’ve let go of it to find time for other things during the last several months. I am grateful for your inspiration in and through writing…thank you for the nudge to get it going again. I have to find my OLW for this year.
    Thinking of you!


  18. I was sorry to read about the loss of your baby and then your surgery. That’s always so difficult. Gratitude is a fabulous word.
    With my late 2015 health issues,I purchased The Happiness Project 5 yr journal. It reminds me of my Grandmother’s journal from 100 years ago. I plan to write gratitude in there. I do the November grateful challenge as well.
    My word is focus.


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