A few years ago I was in a dark(ish) place. It wasn't a pitch black place, but emotionally, I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel... and I felt like I was drowning. Then I remembered how much I loved jorunaling as a child. That time at the end of my day where I wrote something, anything to recap my happenings (and usually included stickers, and drawing a heart around a boy's name). Sometimes I happen upon that box of old journals, some of them little diaries with a lock and key. Reading about myself in those years is insightful and funny. So, I thought, admist the darkness I was swirling in, "Get back to journaling, self!"
Initially, I would forget, or be too tired to write. And not completing this task, as a very task oriented person, was setting me up for self loathing, and feeling like a failure. That was not the intention of the exercise! Then my dear friend Maria gave me one of these beautiful weekly planners for Christmas (and has for the last three years), and I already had one that functioned as my daily to do list and scheduler... so I thought, "Each day, I will write something simple that I am grateful for." It was hard at first to remember... but I kept at it, sometimes writing a few sentences, and sometimes just writing a word or two. I mention my husband, parents and dog the most. My job and good friends are in there too. And sometimes it's the simple things that I tend to take for granted, like a full belly, warm clothes, my relationship with God... But the practice of experiencing, noticing and recording gratitude everyday has changed my life.
It's been over three years since I started this little daily practice. It's always before bed, with my night stand lamp on, my husband begging me to turn the light out... but I don't forget anymore, because my attitude of gratitude has become a necessary, spiritual, daily ritual for me. And when we're looking for all our blessings, it's harder to see our deficits, wants and shortcomings.
As the holidays approach, we remember more often about our blessings, and build in time to be grateful... I would challenge you to find a way to note your gratitude daily! It is truly an exercise in a positive attitude of gratitude!