Several years ago, I came across a book titled: “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are” By Ann Voskamp.
It is a compelling narrative that challenged me to develop a more grateful heart in my everyday life. After reading it, I was inspired to begin keeping a ‘Grateful Journal’ to create a list of 1000 things on my own journey towards a more grateful heart. Items on the list were not to be only the happy, joyful events, but also the sad, or disappointing times when being grateful was a choice – not a default.
I started out well, but as time went on life got busy and I lost track of my notebook. One day, while looking for something else, I came across it. I immediately sat down and began reading through the entries – remembering the various moments of joy, gratefulness, and sorrow. At some point, I realized that through it all, a picture was emerging from these pages – a picture of God’s faithfulness. It struck me that I needed to pick it back up and finish – all the way to 1000 entries. I did eventually finish it and received a great sense of satisfaction.
Even though it can be difficult at times to express gratefulness, it is worth pursuing. NJLifeHacks.com states that benefits of gratefulness include improved physical health, greater happiness, better sleep, more self-esteem, stronger relationships, greater resilience, less anxiety, reduced symptoms of depression, and so much more. They offer tips to get the most out of your journaling.
One day I was chatting with an old friend. We were discussing all the changes my family and I had encountered over the past few years. There has been quite a number: the death of several family members, sickness, retirement, selling our home of 40 years and moving across the country. I’m sure we are not alone – every family, couple and individual experiences change on a constant basis. She suggested that I begin my ‘grateful journal‘ again. What a wonderful idea! Since that time, I have discovered that looking for joy as well as choosing gratefulness can make an enormous difference in our emotional well-being.
Those caring for a loved one with continually diminishing abilities experience the stress of change on a constant basis. According to an article in ‘DailyCaring’, caregivers can experience many positive effects of gratefulness – including reducing stress.
Psychology Today reports “7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude”. They state that gratefulness promotes health on many levels as well as improves sleep.
November is National Family Caregivers Month. This would be a wonderful time to express your gratefulness to a caregiver you know who is caring for a loved one, neighbor or friend. A journal would be an excellent gift. Perhaps go a step further and offer a journal and a bit of respite time as well.
And finally, best of all – gratefulness is free!