"If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is 'Thank you,' that would suffice.' - Meister Eckhart
Thank You Note
No, we are not talking about the thank you notes we've been urged to write since we were knee high to a grasshopper (and which one of us, ahem, still owes a number of people who attended a birthday party back in January -- The Etiquette Grrls, and our mothers, would be horrified.) Instead, we are talking about the daily practice of writing in a gratitude journal.
The underlying message of popular books like The Secret, You Can Heal Your Life, and The Law of Attraction, is that we cannot bring more into our lives -- more happiness, more love, more money, more joy -- until we are thankful for what we already have. It is so easy to focus on what we don't have and a gratitude journal serves as a regular reminder of all of the people, things, and circumstances for which we are grateful. It's nice to have a record of what has made us happy over the years.
There are a number of gratitude journals available to help get one started but all one needs is a notebook and a pen. At Bliss Notes, we love the spiral bound notebooks from Cath Kidston (spiral bound books open fully and make writing easy). And while we adore the aesthetics of the Montblanc Le Grand Traveller, for journal writing we like the Pilot Hi-tecpoint rollerball (this type of pen works best on standard writing paper -- glossy paper requires a ballpoint or it will smear). One can also journal online, but we believe that there is something magical in the act of writing itself.
We prefer to write in the evening and reflect on the day. Others swear by writing first thing in the morning to set the tone for the next 24 hours. There is no correct (or incorrect) way to journal.
Once we are at the page, pen in hand, we try to focus on specifics:
Today, I am grateful for those paper-thin ginger cookies they sell at Ikea.
Today, I am grateful that our sofa is so comfortable to lounge on.
Today, I am grateful for how my son looks when he first wakes up, with his hair sticking up on one side and slightly smooshed cheeks.
Some days the writing flows and other days we are hard-pressed to find anything for which we feel grateful (one can only write "Today, I am grateful for chocolate-covered almonds" so many times before it starts to feel phoned in). And that's OK.
Our gratitude journals act as a bit of a litmus test for our psyches. If we are feeling ungrateful, we know that we need to find ways to work more joy into our lives going forward. In this case, we give thanks for the process of journal writing itself:
Thank you for helping me realize that I need to build more joy into my life. I am thankful today has passed and look forward to a more joyful tomorrow.
Buddha (yes, I'm a Christian and no, I don't get freaked out by the Buddha) reminds us that there is always something for which we can be thankful:
Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.
We're not sure if he was trying to be funny, but on the gloomiest of days, the thought of him speaking to what appears to have been a rather belligerent group of doubters makes us laugh. And we like to laugh.
Something else for which to be grateful.