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30 Big (and Little) Things to Be Grateful For

September 21 is World Gratitude Day — here are a few ideas to get you inspired!

Flat lay composition with guacamole, bread and ripe avocado on grey backgroundNew Africa/Shutterstock

Guacamole whenever the craving hits

Have you seen a produce section at a grocery store lately? No matter where you live, you probably have access to bananas, avocados, mangoes, tomatoes, and other exotic fare year-round. And if you just said, “Wait, since when are bananas considered exotic?” that just proves our point. Tropical fruits are on the menu no matter what your season or climate! Talk about tasting the rainbow.

Sunset at the Baltic seaThomBal/Shutterstock

That big ball of gas in the sky

When you really think about everything that goes into producing a star that can sustain human life on a planet 93 million miles away, it really is quite miraculous. In fact, it works so seamlessly that unless the sun is doing something unusual, like a full eclipse, we rarely even pay attention to it. Take a few moments today to appreciate all the free sunshine around you! It will feel good inside and out—check out these five health benefits of gratitude.

Temperature regulator, thermostatic radiatorLIAL/Shutterstock

A button that controls your climate

Up until the very recent past, humans suffered through freezing winters and scorching summers with nothing more than thin walls for protection. Now, however, we can adjust the temperature of our living spaces to a specific degree with just the push of a button on the thermostat. Next time you walk in a door to be greeted with a blast of cold air, imagine what your great-great-grandfather would have thought and try and show the same joy and wonder.

The vast blue sky and clouds skydetchana wangkheeree/Shutterstock

All the words for blue

Turquoise. Cyan. Robin’s egg. Cobalt. Sapphire. Indigo. Cerulean. Azure. Navy. Aquamarine. How cool is it that not only can the human eye see over 100 different shades of blue but that people are creative enough to name them so beautifully? Show your gratitude for the calming color by coming up with your own names—like “Color of the sky that time I hiked to the top of that mountain in Colorado” or “The shade of the puddle on my sidewalk after a rainstorm.”

Man cutting his nails using nail clipperTitikul_B/Shutterstock

A contraption that trims toenails without cutting your toes

What did people do to manage their toenails before nail clippers were invented? Did they let them grow long and break off “naturally” (i.e. painfully)? Did they trim them with knives? Did they, heaven forbid, chew them down? Talk about a simple invention that doesn’t get nearly enough credit! Hint: It only takes one minute of being grateful to see real benefits.

Relaxed woman lying down on sand during summer vacation. Beautiful girl lying down under the sun tanning in a tropical beach. Positive and serene young woman sunbathing at seaside with closed eyes. Rido/Shutterstock

The outline of your swimsuit on your skin

Tan lines might be an indicator of sun damage (it’s true, wear sunscreen) but they’re also a physical reminder of all the fun times you’ve had outside getting them. Nothing is such a potent reminder of a sun-drenched summer as seeing the signs—of your bike shorts, your life vest, your ball cap, your swimsuit—outlined on your skin.

bad-foodsmarla-dawn-studio/Shutterstock

Raw cookie dough that doesn’t kill you

Cookies are great and all but raw cookie dough is the absolute best. Unfortunately, salmonella can make eating it a risky proposition. But now you don’t have to risk a horrible intestinal eruption to enjoy your treat thanks to pasteurized eggs or egg-free cookie dough recipes.

30 Big (and Little) Things to Be Grateful ForNibaphoto/Shutterstock

Harry Potter and Hermione Granger

Fiction, in the right hands, creates a magical world that provides a glorious escape from reality and we’ve been blessed with some truly great works. The best is when you become so attached to the characters they feel like real friends and live on in your imagination long after their story ended. Did you know that gratitude can also improve your real-life relationships?

White toilet paper rolls on the gray background. Hygiene concept.FotoDuets/Shutterstock

Pillowy soft toilet paper

Feel like wiping your bum with leaves? Catalog pages? Old rags (that then need to be hand-washed)? Your hand? Nah, us either. Thank goodness for the invention of toilet paper in 1857. Even then, the kinks weren’t worked out until the 1930s as shown by toilet paper being advertised as “splinter-free”! Ouch!

Female hand pour cough syrup in a measuring cup on a light background. The concept of health. White bear studio/Shutterstock

Medicine that tastes like candy

“Taking your medicine” used to be a phrase used to describe something necessary but horrible. Not anymore: Thanks to flavored add-ins and coatings, now medicines and vitamins come in a variety of flavors and textures, many tasting just like candy. Chances are your kid has begged you for another chewable ibuprofen when they want a treat and not because they’re sick. (A reminder that you need need to keep all medicines out of reach of kids.)

Happy Mixed Race Toddler BoyTatiana Chekryzhova/Shutterstock

Kissable baby cheeks

Is there anything more delightful than a squishy, cuddly baby to love? Kissing their soft cheek and smelling their damp hair while they fall asleep is one of the seminal joys of parenthood. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “baby person,” hearing their peal of laughter or winning a shy smile can still warm your heart. Plus, they’ll be paying for your Social Security someday so at least be grateful for that!

broken mobile phone on a blue wooden background. Repair of mobile phoneKotelnikov Andrii/Shutterstock

Tempered glass screen protectors

Raise your hand if you’ve never fumbled your phone or tablet, watching it crash to the floor in slo-mo horror. We’re guessing no one has their hand in the air. Why is something so expensive so fragile? Thankfully we have screen protectors that take the brunt of most accidents while still looking and functioning like the real deal. Now, if there was only a way to completely get rid of all the air bubbles.

stylish bedroom interior design with black patterned pillows on bed and decorative table lamp.WorldWide/Shutterstock

Interchangeable blanket covers

Duvet covers are a miraculous invention allowing the most indecisive of us to change the look of our bed without the full commitment of all new bedding. They’re cheaper than buying a full comforter and way easier to wash too. Need some more thankful inspiration? Check out these 16 powerful quotes that will remind you to be grateful every day.

Advanced Math and Algebra HomeworkGuy Midkiff/Shutterstock

That math class you flunked in 8th grade

Public education is a true modern miracle but it’s not just the successes that make it so wonderful: It’s also what it taught us about failure. Whether it was geometry, essay writing, or gym, most of us had at least one class that didn’t come easily and in which we did horrible. But those are often the classes we learned the most from—not just about math or theses but about tenacity, grit, and humility.

ub-foto/Shutterstock

A machine that automatically washes and dries your clothing

Laundry is one of the most tedious chores, inspiring many kids (and adults) to just shove it all under the bed and hope it will magically go away. However, thanks to washers and dryers, that chore has gotten a lot shorter and easier over the years. These workhorse appliances do the work of ten people, plus the sun, in half the time.

Young woman preparing lemonade on table, closeup. Natural detox drinkNew Africa/Shutterstock

An ice-cold glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade

Who was the first human who took a look at that weird yellow fruit, took a bite, puckered, and thought… “Hmm, I could make a really delicious drink out of this stuff”? An underappreciated human, that’s who. There’s nothing quite like a glass of refreshing lemonade on a hot day and as a bonus, you don’t even have to suck a lemon to avoid scurvy!

Close-up portrait of pleased girl with short brown hair embracing funny beagle dog with eyes closed. Smiling young woman in white shirt enjoying good day and posing with pet on terrace.Look Studio/Shutterstock

Dogs that pet you back

Petting a pup can be super relaxing and fun but how sweet is it when your furry friend gives you a little loving “pet” back? (Or a loving lick or a warm nuzzle or an adoring look?) Tell your pet thank you for their years of dedicated friendship—they won’t understand your words but they’ll definitely get your meaning!

Two happy businesswomen taking selfie by smart phone outsidevystekimages/Shutterstock

A life-recorder that fits in your pocket

For the first time in history, any time you see a beautiful sunset, an adorable child, a gourmet meal, a funny show, or any other little moment you’d like to record, you can. Thanks to smartphone cameras, we can now remember all the best moments of our lives through pictures, video, and sound. You can even create a gallery specifically of things you’re grateful for, like a pictorial gratitude journal. Here are some tips for starting a gratitude journal.

30 Big (and Little) Things to Be Grateful ForBenoit Daoust/Shutterstock

All the wisdom of humanity at your fingertips

Similarly, the Internet allows us to access the best moments of everyone’s lives in an instant. All of the kindest, brightest, wisest, smartest, and funniest things ever done are available any time you need a little inspiration. Sure, the net is also a repository of all of humanity’s worst moments but let’s focus on appreciating the good stuff and adding to it!

Unrecognizable young man in sportswear running on treadmill at gym and holding bottle of water Stefanovic Mina/Shutterstock

Water bottles

What did we ever do before we had water bottles to carry with us? Broke a lot of glasses, probably. Water is a staple of life, but only if you can safely get it to where it’s needed. So let’s give it up for water jugs, coolers, barrels, cups, bottles, and all the other ways we can transport water.

city trash cansrobbin lee/Shutterstock

Public trash collection services

If you’ve ever missed a trash pickup you know just how fast your garbage goes from out-of-sight to Hazmat-level contamination. Multiply that by everyone in your neighborhood and it quickly becomes clear what a modern miracle garbage trucks and sanitation workers are. And that’s not even including recycling programs!

Solar PV Rooftop System Mountain BackgroundWichien Tepsuttinun/Shutterstock

Devices that literally harness the power of the sun

The sun is the biggest source of raw energy that we have and now, thanks to solar panels, we can harvest it right out the sky and put it to work powering our homes and offices.

Unrecognizable man holding womans hand. Looking at their photo. Couple Halfpoint/Shutterstock

Your last partner

If they’re your ex, then clearly they’re in the past for a reason. But every person we love changes who we are and we owe just as much gratitude to the ones who helped us learn what we really want in a relationship—and yes, sometimes that means by showing us what we really don’t want. You may not be grateful for your ex but you can be grateful to them for what you learned from them.

Popcorn with caramelElena Demyanko/Shutterstock

Crunchy, buttery popcorn

Someone, somewhere first had the magical experience of putting an ear of corn by the fire only to watch it explode into puffy, delicious fireworks. Since then we’ve found oh so many ways to enjoy nature’s simplest treat. Whether you like yours spicy (chili and lime?), sweet (sticky caramel?), or the standard butter and salt, there really is no bad way to make popcorn… except burnt.

A young girl with a tablet in her hands asks for directions from a stranger. He shows her with finger the right direction. Focus on woman.Koldunov/Shutterstock

The kindness of strangers

Much is said about the many jerks in the world, but for every person doing something rotten, there are so many more doing kind things. Make a list of all the people who helped you out when you needed it the most and you’ll be happy-crying in no time. Now, be that person for someone else.

rainspkphotostock/shutterstock

The scent of rain

Nature is full of amazing smells but there is perhaps none as poignant as the fresh smell of the outdoors after a good rain. It’s impossible to describe the scent, but we bet that you can immediately recall it. Noticing the beauty around you is one of the 7 habits of highly grateful people.

A bare chested male lying down with his newborn sleeping baby on his chest.DGLimages/Shutterstock

A warm afternoon nap on a cold day

Naps are one of mankind’s greatest blessings. Curling up with a cozy, warm blanket on a cold winter afternoon is one of the best ways to take a nap. Although napping in a hammock while being gently rocked by the breeze is pretty great, so is napping on the beach listening to the waves. Or in your tent on a mountain. Or next to your sleeping child. OK, there are no bad naps!

Playing guitar. Acoustic guitar in the hands of the guitaristEA230311/Shutterstock

Spontaneous public singing

Nearly everyone loves to sing but not very many of us are good at it. But if we left the singing to the professionals we’d miss out on all the joy that comes with belting out a good tune. Thankfully there are flash mobs, church choirs, street performers, music teachers, showings of The Sound of Music, and the shower to inspire and encourage everyone to sing their hearts out.

LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Free online instruction

Whether you want to learn how to change the oil in your car, cross-stitch quotes on pillows, speak another language, train your cat to poop in the toilet (that’s a thing!), master basic physics, or operate a ham radio, there’s a YouTube tutorial for it. No matter what your interests are, there’s probably an app, site, podcast, or video willing to show you how to do it—often for free or for a small fee. And if one doesn’t exist? Maybe you just found your next calling in life.

White pills (tablets) background. Medicine objects.Gordya/Shutterstock

Life-saving drugs that kill invaders you can’t even see

There was a time when getting something as tiny as a paper cut could kill you if it got infected. Then antibiotics were invented. Imagine telling your great-great-great grandfather that you could cure practically any infection with a handful of tiny pills. Now they’re so reliable that it’s more remarkable when they don’t work than when they do. Bonus: Listing your blessings is one of the 50 healthy habits to adopt as a family.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen has been covering health and fitness for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 13 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She teaches fitness classes in her spare time. She lives in Denver with her husband, four children, and three pets.