Amy Roberts: My thankful journal
November 18, 2014
I really don’t know how it got there, that magnet on my refrigerator. I don’t remember getting it as a gift, and I certainly never bought it. But there it is, staring at me every time I need to pull the milk out.
This magnet implores me to "Start each day with a grateful heart!"
It’s been demanding I be more appreciative for years. But I haven’t really ever given much thought to obeying it. Until recently. Perhaps it’s because it’s November and the season to give thanks, perhaps I was just curious to see what would happen if I did what the magnet instructs, but I decided to challenge myself this month and, indeed, start each day with a grateful heart.
It shouldn’t be such a difficult thing. Anyone who lives in Park City, or in the U.S. for that matter, has quite a lot to be thankful for. But alas, we get clobbered with our daily tasks and to-do lists and get in a funk when the boss is in a bad mood or the kids misbehave. All those outside influences that make it all too easy to forget how lucky we are.
So at the start of this month, I challenged myself to wake up every morning and write down at least one thing I am thankful for. My only rule was that I couldn’t repeat anything. So as much as I love my dogs (and my family), they only got one day in my gratitude journal. They easily claimed the first two entries.
But after those two obvious choices were recorded, it did start to get a little more challenging. I wanted to be specific, and was looking to avoid things like "I’m grateful for living in the mountains." Instead, I made myself write, "I’m grateful I live in a place where I have year-round access to recreation. I’m grateful I’m motivated to take advantage of the opportunities here and have been able to secure a job that affords me the flexibility and income to do so."
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Every day I review the entries I’ve already made. In retrospect, some were a bit more generic than I’d hoped for. One day I wrote, "I’m thankful for my friends." Failing to mention specifics about what they’ve done to help me through a recent breakup.
Many have been heartfelt. I noted how grateful I am that my sister, who is terminally ill with brain cancer, still has more good days than bad. I’m thankful she is a fighter, and when the neurosurgeon told her, six and a half years ago, she likely had two years of life left, she told him she was going to prove him wrong. And she continues to do so.
Some entries have been a pat on the back. The kind of self-encouraging boost we all need. At first, it felt self-serving to write, "I am grateful I am creative," but at the end of the day, we could all stand to be a little kinder to ourselves.
Looking back, some of my gratitude notes can only be considered puzzling. I clearly was at a loss for words on Monday, Nov. 10, when the only thing I could find to be truly thankful for at 6 a.m. was that I have never seen an episode of "The Kardashians."
But regardless of what I note in this journal, there’s been one remarkable, yet unintended, consequence of keeping it. I have noticed how much happier I am each day. I am less annoyed at petty issues that would have previously sent me into an emotional tailspin. I have been more patient, kinder to others and less hard on myself.
It seems that by simply writing down what I’m grateful for, I’ve manifested an internal peace. Who knew showing a little bit of gratitude could have such strong ripple effects?
So I guess that magnet on my refrigerator is on to something. Perhaps I really should start each day with a grateful heart, regardless of what month it is.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.