Our good Relief Society Presidency challenged us this year to write daily in a gratitude journal they gave every sister at Christmastime. As the year began we did a 60-day "test" where the plan was to come together at the end and see what happened to each of us.
Keeping a gratitude journal is not a new thing to me. I have a running list, started a couple of Thanksgivings ago, that I keep in my calendar and add to every now and again. I'm up to nearly 300 things, all meaningful, though many are very small. Things like "flannel" and "the color brown" are on the list. More recently "hot rollers" and "garage door openers" were things I logged. I love and appreciate each and every item.
But, I wanted to do this challenge and so I took a little time at the end of most days and wrote. I discovered more small, meaningful things. Things like the cycling shorts my husband bought me for my birthday (if you're a cyclist you KNOW what a blessing these are!); then my mother-in-law's "Little Green Machine" that took care of my favorite 4-year old's accident on her bedroom floor.
I tend to look at things to be grateful for from the point-of-view of where would I be without that thing? I'd be a lot more sore without those shorts and my daughter's carpet would be worse off if not for the carpet cleaner. All worth being thankful for.
And while my 300-somethings list includes the things I hold most dear ~ each member of my family, the gospel, the scriptures, the temple, my marriage, etc., it's important to me to not stop with those big things, but to also find the littlest of little things ~
So at the end of those 60 days I discovered something I was not expecting: Contentedness.
I wouldn't have said that I was lacking in contentment before, but by paying attention throughout my day and then recording the special things that had made a difference for me that day caused me to better understand all I am blessed with.
Were my days always easy? Of course not.
Were there days I was grouchy, didn't get to shower, didn't get things done like I'd hoped at the beginning of the day? Yep.
But there was ALWAYS something to be thankful for.
With that contentedness came a greater satisfaction in what I
accomplished each day and I also found a greater sense of humility for
all that I've been given, because I'm paying more attention to those
things each day.
One day's entry was in gratitude for my husband. Well, there were many days I wrote his name, but the entry I'm thinking of was on a day when he stepped in with love and understanding for our daughter who would NOT have found her mother so kind.
I also hope she is as grateful for him...
Looking back on those entries now, I find pages of writing. Pages of gratitude that are a treasure now. I continue to write in that little book and look forward to filling it. I know this year will be one I remember a little bit differently because of this journal.
On the cover of my little journal our Relief Society put these words of President Monson's:
"Gratitude is one of the noblest of virtues. Cultivate within your heart an attitude of gratitude."
We know that the Lord encourages gratitude. He knows the benefits. He knows when we focus on our blessings there is less time to fuss over our challenges. And by doing that, we will be happier.
My contentedness is not unique to me. It's something anyone might find by participating in an exercise like this one.
If you don't already, consider keeping track of the blessings in each of your days. I promise good things will come.