It was probably about ten years ago, in a long, dark winter when SAD and normal life threatened to swallow me into its vortex, and I decided to decisively, consciously think about the things I was thankful for. Every night I listed at least one thing that showed me God’s smile that day. It became part of my going-to-sleep routine, and I’ve filled several notebooks of dates and lists.
One season, I thought I was beyond that exercise, was mature enough to rise above whatever was around me, didn’t need to concentrate so much on being thankful. Gradually, the threatening vortex came back. One day I was sad and depressed that I couldn’t be a reunion that my friends were at, 5,000 miles away. My friend (who calls herself my pancake turner because she reaches into the corners of my soul, flips over and exposes whatever hides there) said, “Anita, you HAVE to give thanks NOW, for THIS. If you don’t, you’ll become a bitter, miserable person.”
I burst into tears, and said I don’t want to be bitter and miserable, and she repeated that I have to be thankful now and here. So I took baby steps to feebly give thanks again. Every night. I didn’t know that it was an Oprah Winfrey thing to do. I only knew that some nights I waited for a long time before I could come up with something to write, but the exercise kept me sane and focused on good things.
I’m learning to never say never, but this one thing I plan to never do: never stop writing my thanks journal. In the last year or so, I’ve noticed other people are promoting the idea too. And today, I saw an extension of the idea here. (Go read it today because tomorrow you have to pay to access the archives.) The article was good, but missed the point of giving thanks to God, the giver of all gifts.
At the end of the day, it’s great to come up with a list of things to be thankful for, but the best thing is that there’s Someone to say “thanks” to.