I say “lit up,” because I think that’s exactly what thankfulness does. It makes things brighter. Life throws lots of things at us that are worthy of a good grumble – aches and pains, a bad night’s sleep, long days at work, financial woes, traffic, negative people, neverending piles of laundry … well, you get the picture.
These things go about “zapping our happy” like a power outage in a thunderstorm. When that happens, sitting back and adding up all the good things in your life is a lot like restoring the lights.
The BIG things, like loving families and great relationships, promotions or getting published? Those are like generators that bring light and heat back to the whole room. But the little things – warm blankets or fuzzy socks, a hug or a perfect cup of coffee? Those are like candles. They light up a little corner of your dark room. With enough of them, you can make a bright sanctuary.
Unlike Jess, I haven’t been keeping a gratitude journal. But this month, I did do something similar. One morning I was updating my Facebook status, and it hit me that I use that space as a place for little rants and vents about all the things that are rubbing me raw – especially on Mondays. I try to be funny about it, but a lot of what I throw out there is dressed-up whining. So for November, I committed to posting one “thankful for” update each day.
Here’s what the month has looked like so far:
11/20 – Today I am thankful for yesterday’s writing binge. I feel like me again today.
11/18 – Am SOOOO thankful its Friday, but that’s a given. Am also thankful for the wonderful group of writers I have met through blogging -including Jess Witkins and Marcia Richards. We all may write different things, but our network and shared experiences keep us motivated and moving forward when we’re tired and would rather sleep in.
11/17 – Today I am thankful for George R. R. Martin, Stephen King and Jodi Picoult. Three very different writers, but each help me get out of my head and show me glimpses of the talent I’d like to be …
11/16 – Today, I am thankful for my body. I drag it to work and the gym when it is tired and hurting. I deprive it of sleep so I can write. I get it drunk and give it hangovers. I cuss at it for not looking perfect. And still, it gives me overall good health and the strength to keep going.
11/15 – Today, I am thankful that I was blessed with living great-grandmothers into my 20’s, and got to spend so much time with them as a kid. I am also thankful that so many of my friends and family members are people who understand that “home is where your furry family members are.” And no, I don’t mean your hairy uncle. I just think animal people have the kindest hearts and the richest lives.
11/14 – Monday kicking off a meeting and deadline-filled fiver. I think this is a good day to be thankful for Excedrin, Tums, caffeine, deep breathing exercises, and happy wine.
11/12 – Today I am thankful for sunshine and beautiful fall weather, and a day just to spend with my guy enjoying the weekend and being together. And also for my crazy friends at Hawley’s who made me laugh so much last night.
11/11 – Today I am thankful for those who have served, those who are serving, and those who one day will serve.
11/10 – Am thankful that I have a momma who taught me that you can be content as long as you have pets, books, booze and the Steelers. And that when the Steelers are struggling, you still have books, pets and booze.
11/9 – Struggling to find the thankful when one morning back in the office has obliterated every de-stressing moment of vacation. But I promised to be thankful each day, so today I’m grateful that if I dig deep enough, I can find the hope/stubborn pride/determination to believe that someday, somehow, I will write my way to a better way of paying the bills.
11/8 – Giving thanks for the little conveniences a day off brings, like being able to get a Dunkin’ pumpkin coffee without standing in rush-hour lines. And taking a shower at home after a morning workout instead of rushing to get ready for work in a gym locker room full of chatty chicks in their underwear.
11/7 – (the morning after my Steelers lost to the Ravens AGAIN) Am thankful I can carry my cup o’ java and my Kindle right back into my bed, and quite possibly stay there all day.
11/6 – (Before the Ravens/Steelers game) – I am thankful that we all have a kick-butt football game to watch tonight, and that I’ll be watching it at Shooters. That I got an extra hour of sleep last night after seeing the shot fairy, and that I won’t be working tomorrow!
11/5 – Am thankful for sleeping until my eyes wanna open instead of responding to that obnoxious “beep beep beep.” The few hours of writin’ time I’m about to steal for myself for the first time in a week, and the wonderful feeling of having good ideas brewing and anxious to get out of my brain.
11/4 – Thankful for the long weekend ahead. A week of no icky rainy weather. That we’re all off on Sunday so the Steeler Girls can be together for the game! That it is soooo flippin’ easy to be thankful on Fridays.
11/3 – Today, I am thankful for the coziness of home when the world gets crazy. Being able to curl up with Lee and Sylvester at night, and the reward of starting today reading and drinking coffee before work instead of rushing to the gym since I’ve been good the last 3 days.
11/2 – Am thankful for some unexpected and awesome suggestions regarding my writing ventures that I got at a work event today. Working somewhere that a lot of your colleagues care about and are connected to creative stuff is a definite perk.
11/1 – Today I am thankful for co-workers who make me laugh even when I’d rather not be working.
What’s been really fun is that a few of my Facebook friends have been doing the same thing. So each morning, I’ve started the day thinking of a “thankful” status update of my own. Some mornings, that has been so easy that I’ve been reminded of how overall good my life really is. Other days – when a long tough week was looming ahead or there’d been bad news or discouraging events the day before – I really had to dig deep to find my gratitude instead of pouring out a rant. On those days, I’d start by reading the “thankfuls” my friends had already posted to readjust my mindset.
Personal gratitude isn’t just about your own appreciation of the good things. When you put it out there, you share a little light for others who are bumbling around in the dark.
When November is over, our little Facebook Thankful frenzy will end, but I am planning to start a gratitude journal at that point.
A “thankful a day” can’t keep the hard stuff away. But it pushes it out of the limelight, and sure can steel you up to deal with it. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to banish that darkness of a bad mood and fill your day up with bright light.
What about you? Do you keep a gratitude journal, or have you ever done anything like this? What are you thankful for today?