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  • Writer's pictureJodi

Three a Day, Twice a Day- The Power of Gratitude

I’d like to think I’ve always been a person that has been grateful for the many blessings in my life. I would quickly send up a rushed prayer to God, “Thank you for all the blessings you give me...keep 'em coming!”, and then I’d start the hustle of my days. I would share with others in the exchange of casual conversation, “Oh, I’m so blessed; God is good.” Reflecting back on how much I have grown up emotionally and spiritually in the last three and half years, I have realized that I was uttering words of thanks and I was acting gratefully, but I wasn’t truly living a life of gratitude. Yes, I was grateful. But, I wasn’t just focusing on what gifts and blessings I did have; I was still allowing the wants, desires, and feelings of what I didn’t have, or what I was missing, to creep into my daily being. As you well know, it’s much easier to allow ourselves to be drowned by the crashing waves that are the stormy seas of life than it is to soar high on eagle’s wings as we gaze on all that we have been given.

It wasn’t until I sought counseling in the fall of 2017 that I developed the daily habit of putting pen to paper and writing out my specific blessings, gifts, and thoughts of gratitude. In one of my earliest sessions, my counselor asked me to start naming “the good in my life, the gifts that I had, the people, things and places” I was grateful to have. As I began rattling off a laundry list of numerous things, people, places, etc. that I was grateful for, my counselor was ferociously writing them all down. After I “finished” my list, she held up the piece of paper that had my list of gratitude written all over it...literally, there was not an open space on the paper. Tears trickled down my cheeks as I sat staring, looking, truly seeing with my eyes for the first time just how very blessed I was (and still am).

Seeing how profound this exercise was for me, my counselor gently suggested that I adopt this ritual as one part of my daily routine- name my blessings out loud, but also write them down. Why the need to write them down after I named them? Because seeing the long list of reasons I have to be grateful would help foster feelings of well- being, safety, security, and comfort during my unsteady, uncertain days of solitude. I left her office that day, bought myself a beautiful journal, made a commitment to myself to write down at least three things a day, twice a day for which I was grateful. I have not missed a day of this practice in the last three and a half years. It was a life changer for me.

My gratitude journal travels with me; wherever I go, it goes. I developed this to be a very simplistic process because I wanted it to stick; I wanted it to become a daily habit. If I made it too laborious, or it contained too much “fluff”, I knew I wouldn’t stick with it. I am not a creature of intense rituals, nor do I like “fluff”; I am more of a minimalist, a get to the point, stick to the point type of girl. So my gratitude journal practice looks the same today as it did when I started in October of 2017, and I am in love.

I begin my day with quiet, reflective time that includes waking up my senses- a cup of hot coffee, soft instrumental worship music, lighting of incense, sitting next to the fire, low lighting- and I work through meditation, prayer, reading God’s word, and I end with my gratitude journaling. I make myself write down at least three things that I feel grateful for at that moment in time. Sometimes I struggle to come up with three “significant” items, and I find myself writing things such as, “I am grateful for water”, “I feel thankful for heat in the house”, but when I look back on these things, I realize they are such gifts, I can and should be thankful for them; not everyone has these luxuries, so…. lucky me. And then there are mornings, when my list of gratefulness goes on and on and spills onto multiple pages. I do the same thing right before I go to bed. (yes, I have a morning journal that I keep downstairs and I have a nighttime journal that I keep on my nightstand). My “routine” at night is a bit different, but I still make myself jot down at least three things for which I am grateful. I do this as the very last thing before it is lights out for me, and I fall asleep with all the good feels playing sweet music in my mind.

My point here is that there is no right or wrong way to incorporate the practice of writing about what you’re thankful for, but it is extremely important that you do it. Write a page, write a paragraph, write a poem, write in sentence form, bullet points, whatever- just write your thankful thoughts on paper. Your practice does not need to be time consuming or some elaborate, grand process; mine isn’t. My gratitude journal serves as an in the moment written reminder of all the good I have in my life, and when I have tough days and it’s easier to dwell on all the bad, I pull out my journal and read through my bulleted lists of all the good. My cup is filled, and joy comes to my heart when I can go back to my own words of goodness and gratefulness; it pulls me right out the slimy pit.

I have also incorporated this “3 a Day” gratitude list at work. This is my first year doing this while at work, and it has been amazing! I keep a little journal on my desk, and each day I make myself record three good things that happened that day. I am a school teacher, so there is always plenty of goodness to be had, but as with any other profession sometimes the daily grind and demands of the job, especially this year while teaching during a Pandemic, can override all the good. I have encouraged my fellow teachers to do the same, and I have heard nothing but positive comments about how it lifts their mood and spirits.

Research tells of all the mental and physical benefits that gratitude journaling can have on our lives (i.e., reduce stress, lower anxiety levels, realization of what we can and can’t control, owning our experiences and not being victims to them, improve sleep, and increase mental clarity). For me, the habit helps me keep things in perspective and serves as a release valve for negative emotions such as resentment, anger, envy, and frustration. And, most importantly, it is a much needed reminder that as long as my basic needs - food, clothing, shelter, security,connection - are met, I really do have everything I could ever need.

So I challenge you, I urge you to pick up your pen and start writing down all the things you have to be grateful for. Look for the good, see the good, write down the good. There is power in our words. Three a Day, Twice a Day. I promise you will find joy even in the longest, hardest, darkest days, and you’ll be grateful for having adopted The Power of Gratitude.

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