The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

Why a Hurricane Filled Me With Gratitude

And I’m very, very grateful for that.

Hurricane2

Like much of the East Coast, New York City was hit by Hurricane Irene. On Saturday, we checked our flashlights, loaded up on food, filled the bathtub, and hoped for the best.

We were extremely lucky. The hurricane didn’t affect us much -- we didn’t even lose power. And I’m very, very grateful for that.

The hurricane was a good reminder about gratitude. For one thing, it reminded me that I have so much to be grateful for that it seems a bit preposterous that I need to remind myself to be grateful -- but I do. When life is taking its ordinary course, it’s so easy to take everyday life for granted.

Also, the hurricane made me much more mindful of how much I love my apartment and my city, and how safe and secure I generally feel. It's a sad foible of human nature that it often takes loss, or the threat of loss, to make us appreciate what we already enjoy.

For me, one of the main challenges of a happiness project is to maintain that sense of gratitude for everyday life — without a hurricane. As Churchill remarked to Sir John Martin, “You can’t expect to have a war all the time.”

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How do you remind yourself to feel grateful, when life is proceeding as usual?

* I really enjoyed cruising around Making It Lovely.

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Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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