Friday, November 6, 2015

Why I Keep a November Gratitude Journal

When I flip the calendar over to November and Thanksgiving hovers just a few weeks away, it's always a reminder to focus on gratitude.  I've tried a few times to keep a daily year-round gratitude journal, but I loose steam after a discouragingly few days ... not that I lack blessings to be counted, that's for sure.  But November rolls around, and I find committing to keep a gratitude journal for a month as part of the Thanksgiving holiday feels doable - it's only 30 days. I know from years past that my experience of Thanksgiving becomes more deeply meaningful and the Christmas season more joyfully content after spending a month feasting on daily gratitude.  So I begin.

Modern life is so abundantly bursting with blessing, and honestly - please don't judge - I find my heart a little bit hardened to gratitude in the day to day.  Blessings are so prevalent; I'm so accustomed to them.  I'm the child overindulged with gifts on Christmas morning, and the focus swings away from the gifts and becomes an obsession with keeping the river flowing.  I remember the parable of the rich man, who threw himself into building bigger and bigger barns to hold all his blessings.  He didn't get to take anything with him when his life was over.  That's right, I remind myself, the tangible things won't go with me.  The ones that so easily rise to the top when I count my blessings will still be here on earth when I'm gone.

The first few days of a gratitude exercise are always easy - maybe a little superficial.  The obvious things (though not less deserving of gratitude) clamor to be counted:  employment, plenty of food, a home we love, automobiles ....  When mid-month rolls around though, and all the easy things have been inventoried and tagged, I'm forced to get still and focus on what lies beneath.  The "what am I thankful for today" contemplation  moves me past the temporal and toward the eternal, and helps me see just how deeply the layers of blessing in this life really go.

Here's what I love about a November gratitude journal:  sitting with gratitude for a month boils off the easy things, the obvious and maybe even superficial things that can be counted off in rapid succession.  I become focused not so much on the blessings, and I dwell on being blessed.  What rises to the top is a deep savoring of my one and only life, and I'm left - not with the barns full of inventoried blessings that I expected when I began, but a shimmering, resonant knowing that if it were all stripped away, I would still rise up blessed.  For this, I'm immeasurably grateful.

Are you counting blessings this November?  What are you grateful for today?

Shared joy is doubled joy ... let's double the joy for both of us - what are you most grateful for today? Click below to leave your comment. I'll go first :

  1. I'm thankful for the work of both Sarah Ban Breathnach ( Simple Abundance) and Ann Voskamp (One Thousand Gifts) .... such inspiring examples of making gratitude a regular practice.