coaching

Jar of Gratitude

There was a time in my life when I struggled to get out of bed. Bed seemed to be the safest place to be then, getting up signaled that it was time to face a world that I felt had let me down and I didn’t know how to deal with that. After all, the world is a very big place. And I, I felt very, very small. And insignificant.

But I am resilient. I always have been. And on one of those really dark days I remembered a quote by Shawn Achor about happiness. He said that when we write down 3 good things that happened that day, our minds would be forced to scan the past 24 hours for something positive. And that this daily act of gratitude would make us happier. I had never done anything like this before, so I thought, why not?

But I had never been good at journaling. I either lost the book, or the pen, or forgot to write that day and then found myself scrambling to catch up. So I decided to try a jar with pretty colored note paper which today still stands on our coffee table in the lounge.

So every night, for a few months, I religiously wrote 3 gratitudes. And it was sooo difficult! Because you couldn’t write the same thing every day! I had to think of 3 different good things that happened every day. I remember one of the first gratitudes I wrote was being thankful for light flowing traffic on the highway that day! Now that really did seem like scraping the bottom of the barrel. And as Shawn Achor had said, I sat for quite a while each night and had a good think about my day. And some things that I would not have given a second thought to, would give me pause for thought.

So I roped my daughter in. And it became a mother-daughter ritual. The jar began to fill. We agreed that at the end of the year that we would empty the jar and read through all of our gratitudes and share some of them with each other. And what an eye-opener that was! We were amazed that we had so many different and meaningful things in our lives to be grateful for. And what a perfect way it was to end what for us had seemed like the most awful year.

So did this work? I think so. It gave my brain something other to do than to just ruminate on the negatives, the things that went wrong that day. I noticed that because I had to look for all the good things, and at first they were few and far between, although the negatives came through, I had to push them away in pursuit of the positives. On reflection, this is similar to mindfulness, but that is a topic for another day.

So we continue to write gratitudes today although we don’t find it necessary to have to do 3 every day any longer. But the jar is a reminder to us to be grateful for the little things that we used to take for granted.

Until next time ☕️

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