I am grateful for Gortex, eye drops, cup holders, half & half, whales.
Really? Another self-help book?
Many years ago, a book seemingly took the women’s literary world by storm - Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It is a book with 366 short entries encouraging the reader to lead a life of authenticity, joy, truth and fulfilment. When I first saw this book, two thoughts occurred to me. First, I thought, “The world doesn’t have room for another short-entry-change-your-life-motivational book.” Second, I thought, “366? Leap year! Clever!”
Finding authenticity, joy, truth and fulfillment
This book was a pretty and thoughtful birthday gift. The giver, my dear friend Jennifer, thought that I needed more authenticity, joy, truth and fulfillment in my life. Glossing over how clearly off-base she was about my needs, I graciously accepted the gift and stored it on my shelf for a few years. I don’t even remember what brought me back around to reading it, but it could have been the realization that I was missing authenticity, joy, truth and fulfillment in my life.
I cracked the cover for the first time since I read her touching inscription, years before. Given my general distaste for short-entry-change-your-life-motivational books, I was surprised to find that it spoke to me.
Every, many, some days I made time to sit and read a passage. When I did find time, the passages rang true and I took them to heart.
Shortly after I starting reading the book, the author introduced the concept of “Gratitude Journals”. Perhaps that wasn’t her original idea, but it was new to me. I had many blank journals stored on my shelves that I had received as gifts, so I retrieved one and started my first Gratitude Journal.
I used Ms. Breathnach’s suggestions for how to create a gratitude journal, and I made up a few rules of my own:
- I wanted to write 5 things daily for which I was grateful before I started my day.
- I couldn’t ever repeat an entry.
I quickly exhausted the obvious ones: health, family, friends, food on the table… For these, I was enormously grateful. Unspeakably grateful. After that, it took me longer to “start my day” each morning - I refused to budge until I thought of five more unique things to add to my growing list.
Grateful for ...
I started adding items that were variations on the obvious - I was grateful every time my family was under the same roof together; I was grateful that my friends lived nearby and I could see them frequently; I was grateful to have a wide variety of healthy food on the table.
I added the unexpected: squeaky voices of little children; fresh chicken eggs; realistic (but artificial) fireplace logs.
I added the philosophical: my receptiveness to alternate belief systems; possessing intelligence that comes from being raised by intelligent people; formal education and life experience.
I added the practical: street-side garbage collection, daily mail delivery and refrigeration.
I added the life-altering: anti-seizure medication, insulin, emergency rooms and paramedics.
But most days, I added “little things” like Gortex, eye drops, cup holders, half & half, whales.
I still write in my Gratitude Journal. I’ve used up all of the blank journals on my book shelves and have actually purchased more for my growing collection of Gratitude Journals. I still don’t repeat entries. I will often move through the day and think, “I should put that in my journal tomorrow.” Living each day fully aware of how grateful I am was the best gift my friend could ever have given me. Thank you, Jennifer. I’m grateful for you.