Attempting Daily Gratitude


It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Saying “thank you.” Being thankful. Welcoming gratitude at whatever the day may bring.

 

This movement toward gratitude surfaced on Facebook the first of November. Suddenly hundreds of people were beginning their days with status updates focused on gratitude.

 

“Today I’m thankful for …”

 

To say I was tempted to join the conversation would be a true statement. Gratitude — in the best of times and the worst of times — is good for the soul. It centers you. It calms you. It reveals what matters most.

 

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Rather than logging on to Facebook each morning, I reached instead for my favorite pen and a new pink journal. The journal was a gift from the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska, thanking me for speaking at their YWE Lead Conference earlier this month. What better place to privately record thoughts of gratitude than within the pages of a thank-you gift?

 

The timing was just too perfect.

 

My first journal entry is dated November 2. I sat in front of my journal, a latte nearby, and just began writing. Journaling is something I’ve never quite felt comfortable doing. As a writer and journalist, my essays and articles have always been crafted for public consumption. Writing something for my eyes only rarely felt natural.

 

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Yet I owned this new journal. Everyone around me (on Facebook) dug deep to identify gratitude. And I felt that I arrived at a place in my life where a greater focus on deeper, more meaningful issues were needed. So, I began to journal on the first blank page.

 

My most productive and creative hours occur before 9 a.m., which is why I strive to journal before work during the week, and before starting my day of errands and such on the weekends. Before picking up my pen and turning to a clean page, I’m certain to have a one-word answer to the question, What am I thankful today?

 

And then, I just write. Free writing. Unlike magazine articles and blog posts, I’ve given myself permission to write without an outline, to develop ideas as I go. From a writing perspective, I find it to be a foreign concept.

 

As I write about gratitude every day or two, I have unwittingly made discoveries about my own life, my behavior, my relationships with others. Such inward reflection wasn’t something I expected, but it has proven to be a welcomed byproduct. The little lessons I have learned just by putting pen to paper have made me grateful for simply that.

 

8 Comments on “Attempting Daily Gratitude”

  1. 1 Wendy said at 5:06 pm on November 21st, 2013:

    Wendy,
    So glad the journal has found its special place in your life, and even more grateful to have you as a resource for girls and a friend of mine!

    Wendy

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    Wendy Townley Reply:

    Agreed, agreed, agreed, Wendy :-) Thank you for your friendship.

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  2. 2 Katie said at 5:14 pm on November 21st, 2013:

    I’ve kept a journal for a long time. It’s been cathartic and is the one place I feel I can be completely honest with myself and how I feel. Glad to hear it’s working for you.

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    Wendy Townley Reply:

    It is! Thanks Katie :-)

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  3. 3 Miranda said at 11:30 pm on November 21st, 2013:

    I used to journal nightly. I’m not quite sure what stopped me from doing so to this day; perhaps I grew too busy, too old, or just lost my love for writing. Regardless, every time this month of gratitude represents itself, I grow a little more eager to pick up a pen and just write – analog of course. In the day of technology everywhere, staring at a screen is something I do far too many hours of the day (admiringly even now as I write this to you on my iphon as I lie in bed) so stepping back is something that is both ridiculously needed and welcomed. I do think I will try my hand at it again, because there are many things I am thankful for: my wonderful job, fantastic friends, a phenomenal husband and family who cares for me…the list goes on. But, too, do I think the cathartic release of my own worries would be beneficial, even if I’m only explaining them in the privacy of a single reader book.

    Thanks for writing on this, Wendy. You have sparked a small flame where I believe there had only been warm embers for far too long.

    [Reply]

    Wendy Townley Reply:

    Miranda, you should! Put away the iPhone and other beeping devices for awhile. That has certainly helped me gravitate toward my notebook and pen, as well as two other books I read each morning that offer daily reflections. Once you fall into a routine, it’ll become second nature. Good luck! Let us know how it goes :-)

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  4. 4 Shannon said at 2:35 pm on November 27th, 2013:

    Great post, Wendy. I love paper and pen, but never seem to get into journal writing. Mostly because my love of paper and pen verges on reverence. I end up thinking they’re too nice to write in! I bought a brand new planner and journal to plan and longhand rough drafts of my blog posts…and I haven’t used either! Completely ridiculous! I need to just dive in. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Love listening to you on the radio, by the way. Oh, and pretty sure I stalked you and Matt at Target one night. I gave up trying to figure out if it was you when I realized your facial expression, although pleasant, was screaming, “Why is this woman staring at me in every aisle I turn down?”. I would have recognized your voice for sure if you had spoken, but Matt was doing all the talking. ;)

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    Wendy Townley Reply:

    Thank you Shannon! Matt also works in radio, which explains why he was doing plenty of talking that night, too :-) Thanks again for listening to Q98!

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