A journal entry of mine on 3/17/2020:
“Today I am grateful for… um… cheez-its”
When we were first sent home from school because of Covid, like many others, I decided to use what I thought would be just a couple short weeks at home for some self-improvement and reflection. I told myself that I would do a Chloe Ting’s workout challenge every morning. I would solidify summer internships and jobs. I would reach out to friends I hadn’t talked to in a while and I would keep a gratitude journal. Not surprisingly, one Chloe Ting’s workout challenge a day turned into one workout a week, summer internships were far from solidified, and I seemed to be reaching out to friends even less than I was prior to the quarantine. However, the one thing that remained, was the pink journal with green swirls on it- my gratitude journal.
Keeping a gratitude journal provided a mindful start to each morning and kept the things that I love and am grateful for in the front of my mind. It also gave me the opportunity to realize that I sometimes lacked gratitude, despite having a life that leaves me much to be thankful for. Some mornings, I had to force myself to think of new things to add to my gratitude list, hence the fact that one day I couldn’t think of much that made me grateful other than my favorite snack to binge. I learned to change my perception and definition of the word gratitude.
I did not need to love every single aspect of my life every moment in order to be a grateful human being. Grateful human beings are sometimes ungrateful and that doesn’t make us bad or selfish! But, I could definitely be grateful for more than just cheez-its. On the mornings where my page was left blank, with nothing to add other than snacks to my gratitude list, I pushed myself to dig deeper. What conversation did I have that I gained something from? Who showed me forgiveness today? Who was patient with me today? What did I do today that made me feel happy or proud and who was involved in making me feel that way? What was one thing that was beautiful today?
As time went on, my morning gratitude lists changed from general one word responses to longer and more thoughtful ones. As time went on, my bullet points became longer and longer. Now, even on my worst days, my gratitude lists are sometimes pages long. At least now, if I can’t think of anything new other than a great snack, I push myself to dig deeper… “I’m grateful for cheez-its because they taste good with everything, and I’m grateful that I live so close to a grocery store and can go buy them. I’m grateful I’m in good health, so I’m able to safely go to the grocery store.” On the days I have difficulty feeling grateful, I push myself to go do something that will make me feel great because it’s great to be grateful.