One of my set goals for 2017 was to write daily three things in my life that I am grateful for. We are in week six of 2017, and so far, I’ve done pretty well documenting my three daily gratitudes. I haven’t written every day; in fact, there have been a couple of weeks I only wrote gratitudes for one day that week. But, I’m really surprised and thankful that I haven’t given up on it yet – out of laziness, or forgetfulness, or just plain not caring enough to document. My hope is that documenting these gratitudes will change my current thought patterns and increase the optimism in my attitude, thus, positively affecting my daily interactions, thoughts, marriage, and parenting. When I feel stumped or tired or uninspired to write down my gratitudes, I tell myself, Simply pick three words. You don’t have to elaborate. Just three simple things. Food on my plate. My daughter. My house.
Seeking deeper gratitude in one’s life, I think, is key to accomplishing my other goals, like creating more positive, optimistic thought patterns, greater personal awareness, and building stronger, genuine bonds with new friends and people in my family and community. But here is the great thing about this project: You don’t have to elaborate on any one of the things you write down. You can write down simple observations. Or, you can write down in-depth experiences you had that day. You can give yourself 15 seconds to write or take 30 minutes to elaborate and really examine what you’ve experienced or observed about what makes you grateful.
It’s too early in this journey for me to say if this project has increased my levels of optimism (plus, I’m nine months pregnant with a toddler and husband who works 60 hours a week, and experiencing all the hormones and physical challenges that go along with life right now isn’t necessarily on-point with feeling positive and optimistic!). What I have noticed this far into the year, though, is that when I started, I would find “simple” things to be grateful for; easy thing, like, “Maxine”, or “our church.” Simple, easy-to-identify moments that didn’t require much brain power or consideration. But then I started to push myself to elaborate and really think about why I’m grateful. I now try to identify deeper issues, situations, circumstances, experiences, or relationships in my life that I am grateful for each day. So, yes, I am thankful for our church and its community; but, what I am really thankful for that it has allowed me to find the missing piece in my life that I’d been looking for – the message that “church” is about my relationship with God, not following a religion or its rules, rituals, and doctrines as I was brought up to believe.
Another interesting, but perhaps less significant detail I’ve noticed after starting this project is that, while I may only write a word or brief sentence about the thing(s) I am grateful for on a slow or lazy day, those acts of gratitude, however brief or elaborate, are still a peak into the key hole of my life. Those entries can still act as a journal or book of collected experiences. For example, on January 19th, 2017, I noted that the things I was grateful for were my women’s Bible study group and the support that they provide to me and each other; Maxine’s hugs and kisses that evening; and, Nathan being alive. In a few years, I may not know exactly what we spoke about in Bible study that day, or why Maxine gave me hugs and kisses, or what happened to make me thankful for Nathan’s beating heart; but those were relevant and significant thoughts I had that day. They moved me, and that’s worth something to me.