I've been working my way through Julia Cameron's "The Complete Artist's Way" over the last few weeks and have enjoyed some of the exercises she recommends. One was to write out ten tiny changes I'd like to see happen in my life. That took a little bit of thinking, but I finally settled on ten. After listing those, I was to choose one and begin implementing it immediately. The one I chose to do right away was a daily list of things I'm thankful for.
Today marks Day 6 of listing things I'm thankful for. I'm trying not to make it a great big deal, because I want it to be sustainable, so I just write down five things that immediately pop into my mind. I decided that to keep writing down things like my family, friends, love, health, God, etc. would take up my list of five each day, so those are planted in big letters across the top of the note. I'm always thankful for those.
There are so many things to be thankful for and so many people to whom I should say thank you, so it is never difficult to uncover five each day. Sometimes it's as simple as fresh sheets on the bed, or a chance to sleep in while snuggling a kitty or as profound as a friend finding me after thirty years.
I've actually created these lists several times in my life. The first time was when I was in high school. I got the idea from my father. He had received a phone call late one night from a man whose family came to our church, but whom I had never met. The man was on a beach in Florida and intended to kill himself. He hadn't been much of a husband or father and decided it would be easier for everyone involved if he just went away. Dad asked him to wait another day and while he was waiting, come up with ten things he was thankful for. The man promised to do that and then promised to call Dad the next morning. The phone call that next morning came from the airport. The man was coming home to renew his relationship with his family and to begin a relationship with God.
That story struck a chord with me. Though I was nowhere near suicide, it did occur to me that an attitude of gratefulness would overwhelm the negativity that I had in my life. As a high-schooler, negativity pretty much went hand in hand with growing up and I was tired of Mom telling me to change my attitude. It was time to actually do something about it. The fights with her were more difficult than simply trying something new. So, I did. Every night as part of my devotional time, I began writing out a list of things I was thankful for. I won't tell you that it caused as radical a change in me as it did for my Dad's friend, but I will tell you that it is an exercise I am glad to return to on a regular basis.
Gratitude opens the mind and heart.
Gratitude takes me outside myself.
Gratitude is bigger than problems.
Gratitude spills out on others.
Gratitude brings perspective.
Gratitude lifts others up.
Gratitude lifts the heart.
Gratitude is a journey.
Gratitude is a lifestyle.
Gratitude is humbling.
Gratitude is a choice.
Gratitude shows love.
Gratitude brings joy.
What are you grateful for today? How will you share that gratitude today and tomorrow and the next day?