Documenting Gratitude

My favorite holiday has always been Thanksgiving. There is no gift-giving, no fireworks, no returns. Instead, you sit around a table of delicious food with your beloveds and share how grateful you are for all your blessings. How wonderful is that?!

In my family, after we say grace and before the first spoonful hits the lips, we all go around the table and state what we are grateful for. And every time, I fight happy tears from the cup-runneth-over feeling of just how wonderful, even in years with plenty of darkness, it is to be alive and to be loved.

Last year, I read a series of articles on how gratitude can positively impact happiness. I was intrigued by the idea of a gratitude journal and keeping track of the things that I am grateful for.

I thought of this in August 2014, during a period of overwhelming stress before I left on my Fulbright.  I had nightmares about all the things I had to do in time for my big trip. I got so stressed out, I randomly burst into big pathetic tears in the Apple store (sorry Michael; I promise it wasn’t you, it’s me!). Later on that day, I sniffled a little to my mom on the phone.

Jessica looks stressed out

This is my “I’m stressed!” face.

Her response was full of her usual motherly wisdom: “Jessie, refocus. You have been given an amazing gift. Just sit down and think of all the things you are grateful for.”

So I threw away the Kleenex, got out a pen and my nice new notebook (thanks, Jennifer!), and started writing. And you know what, it worked! I felt amazing afterward. I even did some fist pumps in the air and danced the waltz with my cat. I do have so many amazing blessings, and when I put my focus and energy into those things, the stress becomes secondary.

I want to take notice and reflect on the everyday acts that bring me joy. I’ve decided to make my gratitude journal public for two reasons: 1) it keeps me accountable; 2) it allows the people in my life to know just how grateful I really am for their help and support.

View my blog posts (filed under Gratitude) to read the latest additions to this series. And thank you for joining me here!