Two years ago I started a gratitude journal, in response to something I had read in a magazine article to write down what I was grateful for in my life for one year. This journal was to make me think about the positive things in my life instead of the negative things that have permeated our society. What I noticed about myself what that as I was grateful for everything God has done, for the people, and things in my life. At the end of each day I would write down at least 10 things I was grateful for that day. I was always grateful for the basics: God, my husband, my sons and my family therefore; I tried to come up with 10 different things to be grateful for. One day I was grateful that one of my coworkers would trade work days with me so I could have one of the Spring Holy Days off and not lose any pay. I was also grateful to several people at church for helping me with after services snack set up when it wasn’t their turn. Three months into this journal I started to wonder if just writing down what I was grateful for was a selfish act. Shouldn’t gratitude be something I share with the people who are bestowing kindness on me?
Gratitude is more profound than just being thankful for something. Having gratitude towards someone for a kind deed means that I needed to take an action and let that person know how grateful I am for their kind deed. Simply writing it down in a journal does nothing. Gratitude deals with our heart. We must give gratitude away for it to mean something. On the other hand, being thankful is a feeling. Thankfulness is the awareness that someone has done something for you when you least expected it. Keeping a “thankful journal,” listing what we are thankful for throughout our day makes us aware of those kind deeds.
As I continued to write in my journal, I also began buying packs of thank-you cards, so I could say “thank you” directly to the people who made a difference in my life. Gratitude is to be shared not written about and hidden in the pages of some journal. My gratitude journal turned into a tool of expressing my thankfulness for the people and the acts of kindness that were bestowed on me.
Do we show the people in our lives how thankful we are that they are a part of our lives? Bake some cookies for the neighbor who shoveled your sidewalk. Write a letter to those people in your life that have gone out of their way to make your journey on this earth livable. Acknowledge the things you are grateful for in your conversations with your coworker, who picked up the slack at your office, when you were gone for the Feast. Send thank you cards, not through the internet, but real, paper thank-you cards. Say exactly what you are thankful for in the card, make it specific: “Thank you for…holding the elevator for me every day.” “I am grateful to you for…sharing your harvest with me” “You are a blessing to me…for calling me during the busy week!” Don’t let another day go by without showing your gratitude.