Last week I read an article that stayed with me long after I turned off the computer. The author encouraged her readers to keep a gratitude journal—write down one thing a day for which you are grateful. It doesn’t mean long, complicated soul searching confessions. Just a simple acknowledgement of things for which you are grateful. And this means you need to find things to be grateful for even on your worst days.
The theory is that by looking for things for which to be thankful, we will actually see that our lives are filled to overflowing with people, events, possessions —large and small— that should make us realize how blessed we are.
I, being an optimist by nature, thought that was a great idea and grabbed the lovely leather covered journal my niece gave me for Christmas. It languished on the bookshelf for months, and now its time had come, I felt grateful to have such a lovely book to record my gratitude.
“Perfect,” thought I. “Not only will my gratitude be preserved for posterity, but it will be written on one of “200 pages of unique handmade paper.” It will stand out in a crowd. I will not only be grateful, but I will, undoubtedly, be renowned. This will be a classic. A thing of beauty. And the cherry on the soda….I would be writing!
My first entry was easy. I was grateful for the beautiful journal I would be using to record the abundance of my life. It seemed, however, somewhat shallow when I looked at the empty page and all I had on it was my gratitude for leather and handmade paper. What about the poor animal who had contributed the leather? How about the trees that had taken a dive to furnish their pulp for paper? What about the farmer? What about the lumberjack? Don’t even get me started about the pen I was going to use to write my gratitude in the journal.
NOW JUST WAIT A MINUTE. Maybe I was going about this the wrong way. Maybe I was getting down in the weeds and not seeing the big picture. Maybe if I started with something else I could find my footing more easily.
I would start with the beginning. I was grateful for the new day. A blank slate, so to speak. A day that held so much promise. But, a quick check of my daytimer reminded me that today was the day that I had my annual physical. That’s a good thing, and I should be grateful for that too. But, when I go to my annual physical, my doctor always comes into the cubicle I’m occupying and with a long face says, “Beverly, we have to do something about your weight.”
First of all, what is this “we” business? Yes, I have to do something about my weight, but I thought we had established years ago that it wasn’t likely to happen soon. Secondly, by bringing up my least favorite subject, I simply stop listening and the rest of the appointment goes much like Charlie Brown interacting with any adult in his comic strip. “Wah, wah wah,wah wah. Next year.” But I am/should be grateful.
So, my journal got off to a slow start. The fact is, that once you start thinking about what you are grateful for, you are inundated with ideas. There is so much for which we should give thanks that no single journal could begin to hold the offerings. I do think it is a great idea — our parents used to call it “counting your blessings” before journals became fashionable— to examine those things that bless our lives. However, don’t limit your thanks to only those things that leap to your mind immediately. Remember no blessing stands alone. Each is supported by endless lines of blessings before it. No journal can hold all of that, but it might be worth a try.