No one needs to be reminded that 2020 was a tough year. But along with all the difficulties, there were moments of victory, completion, pleasure, and wonder. Recalling those instances was the purpose of breaking open the gratitude jar. Throughout the year, highlights, big and small, are recorded on colorful papers and placed in a container. Sometime around the calendar new year, my husband and I review those slips of paper. What good things did the year bring? Some examples-
Events BIG: We welcomed a new granddaughter into the world! I finished writing a new book entitled, Tallulah. A major construction project in the house was completed. Bought a new car.
Events SMALL: Sighted a new bird (Towhee). Learned all our neighbor’s names & grew closer as Covid drew nearer. International phone calls to friends. Built swing set for granddaughter. Babysitting grandbabies. Dinners with son and daughter-in-law. Orchids bloom. Raccoon with babies. Eight-foot snake on a trail walk.
We are unlikely to forget the big events that shape our lives, but the little things are often overshadowed. The gratitude jar always surprises us reminding us of the small contributions the routine of daily life, with all its struggles, contribute to our experience of life and our contentment in the world. If you’ve never kept a gratitude jar, I encourage you to try this practice for 2021. It’s worth the small investment in time and may change your perspective helping you to refocus as each new year arrives.
It’s Thanksgiving again and many will fleetingly acknowledge a few (or many) things they are grateful for today. Maybe you’ll go around the dinner table asking friends and family to share a few words. That reminds me of the year we did that. The kids were little and we had gathered pinecones from Plymouth and I thought it’d make a meaningful ritual to pass a pinecone and mention something we were grateful for. It was a disaster. Everyone was caught off guard and a few adults even seemed offended. How dare I require something of them when the whole idea of Thanksgiving was to stuff yourself to bursting? The pinecones sit at the bottom of a box of fall decorations never to see the light of day again. I learned.
I’ve always been a cup half-empty person. My focus was on a compulsive need to fill up the cup so I could at last be happy. When I achieve the right job, the right income, the right family, the right set of possessions, and the right body – then I will have earned the right to be happy. That’s how I was raised after all. Then I will celebrate and be grateful for having it all. For decades I existed like this (maybe you do too?).
Eventually I did come to understand how toxic this attitude is.
Nowadays, I have a gratitude practice which is simple and has turned me into more of a cup half-full person. Every night I take a few minutes to focus on the myriad of good things in my life. By choosing to see the world this way, I banish thoughts of not being good enough and not having enough. I am good enough and I certainly have enough. That’s blasphemy in our consumer driven, material world. I am a revolutionary. Are you?