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.
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.
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.