My Gratitude Journal’s Pathetic Beginnings

I keep a gratitude journal, and a few evenings a week I jot down one thing from the day that I am thankful for. It can be something as self-serving as being thankful for landing that new client, or it can be something as simple as being thankful for having a day with above freezing temperatures (it has been darn cold here this winter!). You may find the idea of a gratitude journal a little too sensitive, but it reminds me to appreciate something unique to that day.

I know I am not the creator of the gratitude journal, but I discovered the concept during an incredibly low point in my life. It was about 18 months after moving to the “big city” of Harrisburg, and I was just floundering along. I had a job and a roof over my head, but I had reached a point where I was starting to wonder, “Where do I go from here?” See, I had come to Harrisburg thinking I knew who I was, but I was starting to discover just how much I still had to learn … about life and about myself.

And like most 23 year olds newly out of college, working a starter-job, and paying back their student loan, I was broke-ass-broke (that’s really broke for those of you who aren’t familiar with this term). Not only was I living paycheck to paycheck and barely getting by, I was still going back to Dad’s on the weekends to fish coins out of the sofa and eat for free (and taking a few groceries from his cupboards so I could eat the rest of the week). Broke-ass-broke I was.

I had a few good friends that I could turn to for support (and did), but they, too, were my age and splashing along just like me. We were all stuck in the abyss of post-college life trying like hell to define “it” so then we could figure “it” out. We were all spinning our wheels and getting nowhere.

I was floundering, broke, clueless … and miserable.

One December Sunday, I was fed-up with this black cloud over me. I didn’t want to be this way anymore, so I sat down with a pen and paper with the purpose of forcing myself out of this funk I was in. Writing always made me feel better when I was in college, so I thought to myself, “What the hell. I’ll give it a whirl.”

With pen and paper in hand, I sat and thought about what to write. And thought … and thought … and thought … and (DAMMIT!) thought some more. And guess what? Blank. Total and complete blankness. I couldn’t find one thing to write about … not one creative thought was even close to pinging through my brain.

“Are you kiddin’ me?” I shouted. “How the hell am I going to force myself out of this funk if I can’t find one thing to write about?”

After sitting there for what seemed like an eternity, I made a bargain with myself. If I could just write one thing I was thankful for, I would call my first step of trying to crawl out of the bowels of my lowness a victory.

And I still sat there forever and couldn’t come up with one thing. I was miserable. I was broke-ass-broke, and I the more I sat there not being able to find one thing to write about, the more hopeless I became.

Finally, I had a thought – a glimmer of something that I was sincerely thankful for. In fact, it was an event that had put a smile on my face earlier in the day. Know what it was? The New England Patriots’ win over the San Diego Chargers (47 -7).

Pathetic? Absolutely yes. But it was a start. For the next 30 days, I forced myself to write one thing that I was thankful for, and surprise, surprise, that was the year that the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl. They may have lost the championship to Green Bay, but their winning season put me on the right track to figuring “it” out. To this day, when I write in my gratitude journal, I remember how far I’ve come and am completely thankful that I am not that miserable, young, “funk-filled” girl any longer.

What the hell … why don’t you give it a whirl? You may be surprised!

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