This post is dedicated to my friends and family celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. Wish we could be there with you! Please know how thankful we are to have you in our lives!
Every day there are things that don't go our way, things we take for granted, things not accomplished. Far too often we concentrate on what has gone wrong, worrying and stewing about how we haven't yet obtained all the things we want in life. As a Mom, it's easy to focus on what our kids could have done better - how they could have behaved better at the store or how they didn't clean their rooms. I know that I often get trapped into busyness of life and feel the knots in my stomach when I fail to accomplish the tasks on my perpetual "to do" lists. But, there is hope for us. My father taught me something that has helped me live life better and I want to pass it along to others.
My Dad was a remarkable man. He passed away April 19, 2008 of Stage IV colon cancer. At a time in his life when most people would have felt little to be grateful for, my Dad started to write a gratitude journal. He told me how the simple fact of writing down 4 or 5 things he was grateful for each day had changed his whole outlook on life. Focusing on the positive each day left less and less time to think about the negative. He wrote simple things in his journal like how he was "thankful for thicker soup at the hospital today" or "thankful that Edo added salmon to its menu". Can you tell he loved food? Of course he also wrote about important stuff like how he was "thankful for seeing his grand kids and how they made him laugh". Some of the things he wrote in that journal I will treasure for always.
After he told me about his gratitude journal I started writing my own. On a bad day it might seem a daunting task, trying to find the good things to list. However, I've found that once you get started it gets so much easier. You might start with a silly thing like "I'm thankful that my car did not run out of gas today" (something that I am thankful for far too often, given my propensity for pushing the little red light) to being "thankful for a friend's call" or "for a night out without the kids". It's amazing how once you start listing things, more and more ideas pop into your head, and in no time you've actually pulled a good day out of a bad one. I've even added a gratitude journal application on my iTouch. What could be easier?
I may not always write my list down every day but mentally at night, before I go to sleep, I try to recall all the things that were good.
I don't claim to have discovered gratitude journaling but it has helped me focus on what is really important in life - like Caitlyn's love notes, Jack's wide eyed joy about the awesomewater slide we went on, laughing with my friends on Skype, or the best popsicles I have ever tasted - they're called Cyclones here and they are amazing! On that note, I guess I am my father's daughter!
So try a journal yourself... you might like it.