Thursday, March 23, 2017

Gratitude

My one little word for 2017 is CHANGE so I've been doing a lot of thinking about my life, the things that work and things I want to change. 

I've always been grateful for the goodness in my life, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all negative voices on the nightly news, social media, and even overheard in grocery store conversations.
By the end of 2016, I felt like all that noise was distracting me from the things are really important. 

This was something I needed to change.  So on January 1,  I started a gratitude journal.  Every evening, I write about one event that happened that day and why it brought me joy. Maybe it was hearing my favorite song on the radio, a phone call from my son, or my cat purring on the bed beside me. For me, the key is the "why" piece because it causes me to do some reflection.

It's a small thing to do, just a few sentences, but it has made a positive difference in my life.  My focus has changed, and I find myself looking for the goodness in each day.  An added benefit is that recording life's joys gives me a chance to relive them again and again. When I'm having a bad day, I read through my gratitude journal and always find something to smile about. 

In the beginning, I worried it might end up being another chore to add to my day.  That didn't happen because most entries are very brief. Of course there are times when there are too many wonderful events to choose just one. On those days, I go ahead and fill the page with joy!

When I decided to start a gratitude journal, I remembered this poem.  Maybe it was there in the back of my mind inspiring me all along. 

                     Gratitude
                     -Barbara Crooker

This week, the news of the world is bleak, another war
grinding on, and all these friends down with cancer,
or worse, a little something long term that they won’t die of
for twenty or thirty miserable years—
And here I live in a house of weathered brick, where a man
with silver hair still thinks I’m beautiful. How many times
have I forgotten to give thanks? The late day sun shines
through the pink wisteria with its green and white leaves
as if it were stained glass, there’s an old cherry tree
that one lucky Sunday bloomed with a rainbow:
cardinals, orioles, goldfinches, blue jays, indigo buntings,
and my garden has tiny lettuces just coming up,
so perfect they could make you cry: Green Towers,
Red Sails, Oak Leaf. For this is May, and the whole world
sings, gleams, as if it were basted in butter, and the air’s
sweet enough to send a diabetic into shock—
                   
Read the rest of the poem here.


Here are two good articles, if you'd like to learn more about the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal.

10 Reasons Why Keeping a Gratitude Journal Could Be Your Best Idea Ever!

The Benefits of a Gratitude Journal and How to Maintain One


I am thankful I got to meet my friend Catherine in person last fall at a Highlights workshop.  She is hosting Poetry Friday at Reading to the Core.
                      
T

32 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your gratitude and inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this idea. I too have just been feeling overwhelmed by all the negativity everywhere - everyone just seems so angry, and though I know there are valid reasons for all this negativity, sometimes you just need to back away and retreat into a place of gratitude, reflection and contemplation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jane, I know what you mean. Taking time to think about the good things has really helped me.

      Delete
  3. I tried to keep a gratitude journal, but I had so many things to be grateful for, it was taking too long to write it all down! :-) Now I remember that day, and it's enough to reorient me from the few sad things to the copious blessings. Great poem!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brenda, sometimes it is hard to choose just one thing, but I try to honor one thing each day. For me, it makes that ONE thing even more special. And, you're right, it does help to be able to look back on the more challenging days.

      Delete
  4. Barbara Crooker is one of my favorite poets. So accessible. Her poetry resonates with me. I started a gratitude journal in January 2016 that lasted through February. I should go back to it. Such a good practice. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margaret, I hope you will give it another try. Keep it very brief and simple. I keep my journal on my desk next to my laptop so when I shut down for the night, it's right there. Good luck!

      Delete
  5. Oh LInda, I LOVE that you are keeping a Gratitude Journal! This is a daily practice for me that began when I was a young mom with a son who could be really hard to love. Every night I would write all the things I was grateful for (about him) and it helped me so much! (Years later, when he was diagnosed with Asperger's, I understood the "why.") I also have a Gratitude Globe my sister gave me -- little slips of paper on which you write things and roll them up and slip them into the glass globe, so gratitude becomes part of the art. What a beautiful way to live! Thank you for sharing! xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Irene, I love the idea of the globe. I've never seen one of those, but it sounds like a wonderful gift. A few years ago, I tried keeping a gratitude jar. For me, the journal is working out better. I agree that it does help us through the challenging times. xo

      Delete
  6. I agree Keeping a gratitude journal provides a welcome antidote to the negative news that seems to constantly swirl around us. Thank you for sharing the lovely poem, too.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A gratitude journal would be good for a "second" journal for kids at school, too! A way to start their day, or end it.
    Just so you know, I've included a line from your post today in the new Scavenger Hunt!
    http://mainelywrite.blogspot.com/2017/03/poetry-friday.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Donna, I agree that a gratitude journal would be a great way for students to start the day. Let me know how it goes, if you try it. Now, I'll go take a look at your post. A Scavenger Hunt sounds like fun!

      Delete
  8. Thanks for all, Linda. I like that you have started that journal filled with goodness, a "sugar" jar? I keep notes all week & join a group on Saturday to celebrate the good things from the week behind. It too is a way to focus on the positive. I love Barbara Crooker's writing, so often speaks to me. Thanks for that too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda, I love the "sugar" jar idea. It's so cool that you have a gratitude group. What a great way to end the week!

      Delete
  9. I love this post! I started keeping a gratitude journal as well for very similar reasons in November '16. It is not a chore. And, I think it's given my writing a bit of a boost too. I found the prompts for my journal from Liz Gilbert's facebook page. She got them from a Ted Talk ---which I can't find as quick as I thought I would in a google search. But, it is there and if/when I find it, I'll share it. The questions are these:
    TODAY I AM GRATEFUL FOR:

    TODAY I HELPED SOMEONE BY:

    SOMETHING THAT MADE ME HAPPY TODAY WAS:

    TODAY I LEARNED

    TOMORROW I WILL:

    TODAY I CONNECTED WITH GOD (I added this one to the original five because it's important to me)
    Thank you for this poem. I have been pinning poems to a pinterest board to keep track of all the wonderful words I want to get back to someday. This one, by Crooker, is a keeper. Have a wonderful week.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Linda, thanks for sharing the prompts. Yes, please share the Ted Talk, if you can find it. I agree with you that keeping a gratitude journal is not a chore, it's a pleasure. I'm going to check out your Pinterest board!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is such a joyful post - love that poem, though, as I love all of Crooker's poem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Tara, Crooker's poems are some of my favorites.

      Delete
  12. Linda, I can imagine how peaceful & joyful the gratitude journal makes you feel because it slows my heartbeat (after just reading political news) during the visit here. Lovely post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jan, I know what you mean. It's one of the reasons I started the journal. I needed to get my mind off of all the nonsense going on. : )

      Delete
  13. Amen and amen. This bit always gets to me, because it's true for me, too: "where a man
    with silver hair still thinks I’m beautiful. How many times
    have I forgotten to give thanks? "

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's beautiful, Mary Lee. I'm sure he knows. xo

      Delete
  14. Thanks for prodding me, Linda! I need to be more consistent. :) Are you familiar with Sarah Ban Breathnach's books? Romancing the Ordinary is a favorite of mine. She writes about keeping a gratitude journal and about the simple and ordinary in life.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am grateful for this post and Crooker's poem. Thank you, Linda! =)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much for this lovely post, Linda. As you say, it's so easy to be distracted by all the noise around us and lose focus on our many gifts. Meeting you at Highlights was one of those gifts, as is Crooker's poem. I especially love rainbow of birds in the cherry tree.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Meeting you AND Catherine AND Linda B in person was something I am also truly grateful for, Linda (& reconnecting with Buffy) - thank you for sharing this heartfelt, thoughtful, post.
    "and my garden has tiny lettuces just coming up" - that line made me happy. :0)

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a beautiful, perspective post, Linda. I'm so glad you're winning with the positives! You're winning at encouraging & inspiring others, too. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Such a beautiful ritual to end one day and meet the next with gratitude. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank you for this lovely post!

    ReplyDelete
  21. An excellent task to assign yourself. I've recently reinstated morning pages into my routine and have added a thankfulness paragraph at the end of the process. It has made a difference for me, too.

    ReplyDelete