Gratitude Alarm


“Boing!” That’s so loud.

“Boing!” Even louder the second time, I think.

“Boing!” A short pause after the third time, and then three more in quick succession.

This is my “take your medicine” alarm, and there’s no ignoring the bossy phone’s insistent message.  My spouse has dubbed this alarm “obnoxious.”  It is pretty irritating.

Still, I’m grateful for the technology that allows me to rely on this device rather than on my memory.

I’m fortunate that my memory usually fails me in smaller ways.  But sometimes it fails me in bigger ways—when I forget to acknowledge and celebrate the blessings in my life.  I want to strengthen my gratitude muscle, especially since researchers in the field of Positive Psychology have shown a strong correlation between feelings of gratitude and happiness.

About two years ago, I set an alarm in my phone to ring three times daily, to ensure that I would stop what I was doing and take a moment to be grateful.  I chose not the electronic piano riff of my carpool alarm nor the rhythmic Timba drums of my wake-up alarm, but the soothing strains of the harp to be my gratitude alarm.

The harp music serves its Pavlovian purpose as effectively as the rude “Boing!”  In the morning it triggers the recitation of a blessing for my body’s proper functioning, and most afternoons it inspires meditation and slow breathing that ushers a calm closure to my workday. Sometimes I preempt the afternoon alarm before the harp calls me, choosing instead to lace up my sneakers for a short walk and get my blood pumping before the responsibilities of being Mom-the-driver-to-after-school-activities begin in earnest. In the evening, the harp reminds me to log off the computer or finish folding the laundry, to settle in with a book or magazine, to quiet my mind before bed.

Whenever I hear the gratitude alarm, my mind empties of distracting thoughts while my heart fills with joy.

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