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.
7 thoughts on “A Little Bit Goes a Long Way”
perhaps you would enjoy this: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2003/06/gratitude-community.html
Thanks! I should have included Ann’s site. She’s one of my Very Favourite bloggers.
I am discovering that regular times of giving thanks are a big part of keeping depression at bay for me. I’ve been doing it mornings but I think I’ll try switching to evenings…I wonder if it would help me get up with a lighter heart…
I was inspired by your thanks journal practice when I read your book. I began my own journal and usually write three things in it every evening. It’s been such a blessing to me. I am able to focus more on the little blessings that God sends my way each day and I think it has made me a more positive and thankful person.
This is an exercise I often recommend as well. During a season when my whole world seemed to fall apart, it pulled me through. I tried to write 5 things every day, and on bad-days-that-were-worse-than-usual, write a list twice daily. Like I explain when I encourage the practice, “You don’t want to write the same things every day. So you go through your day, looking for something specific to thank God for. And you WILL find something- many somethings.”
In every thing give thanks!
Sigh. Thanks for the rejuvenation. I started my little idea of a ‘thanks journal’ after I got home after the States trip with the zeal to maintain the idea.. I kept it up daily , then every other day, now it’s kinda, um….weekly. On not-so-bright days like today, i have zero motivation to try to think of anything to be thankful for. But I know how good it feels to sit down at the end of the day and jot down all of God’s little love-notes to me….all the miserable moments of the day that seemed so huge at the time, just kinda don’t matter anymore. So thanks for the little push that I needed to get it going again!
Thanks for the kind comment you left on my blog. I followed the link to yours and have greatly enjoyed reading here. Especially this entry. Gratitude is so powerful! Blessings as you continue to give thanks!