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.
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