The Miracle of an Attitude of Gratitude Journal
Growing up in a negative/abusive environment does not predispose one towards a positive attitude. How does one even learn something like that when they have never, or very rarely, even seen it?
Over the years, there was just enough exposure to positive moments and expressions of gratitude, that it would whet the appetite for more.
Not that there weren't moments in college, but time in the military also provided enough abuse and negativity to overpower any attempts to grab and hold onto such an attitude.
Not knowing if it was natural or intentional, there was a never ending quest to search out those with a positive outlook and/or an attitude of gratitude. Sadly, there was an astonishing absence of such.
Once I found the career of a lifetime (tongue in cheek) in collections, it really lit a fire to search for both. It became a mission, that quest did.
Being drenched every day for eight hours with verbal abuse, verbal vomit will do that to one.
One or two of my earlier blogs were about this subject. After much research into that type of work environment, most resources suggested changing listening skills, reaffirming and confirming what customers were saying and rewording our questions, comments or answers, and solutions.
Honestly, with the level of humanity we were dealing with daily, those changes had a minimal affect.
On the customers.
Or on me. However, seeds were definitely planted.
And, before long, I noticed changes within myself. First was a greater desire, a burning passion to know my Abba better. To spend more time in His Word. To spend time, quality time, with more of His children.
That began to bring about a shift in me. Instead of being swayed or touched by the negative, I was mentally chopping down barriers to find the positive, the good in the situation(s) around me. I was looking for different possibilities for my own feelings and responses.
I was looking for an attitude of being happy, even when that was not, seemingly, one of the choices.
My favorite saying quickly became, "It's SO much more fun to laugh than cry."
If someone felt the need to scream at and curse me, that was on them and they could.
I didn't have to hear and absorb it, though.
These moments quickly became prayer opportunities.
During one of those diatribes, I had a HUGE "aha!" moment. Going forward, I was going to keep an Attitude of Gratitude Journal.
So, going forward from that moment, if someone had the overwhelming need to verbally vomit on me, I was going to grab my AGJ and make a positive statement.
When someone needs to vent, to clear their own conscience of mistakes and choices they made, it usually takes six to ten minutes for them to wind down. By that time, I had covered myself with that same amount of positive, uplifting time with Abba.
It's amazing how a conversation can change when one person has emptied the negative poison and the other has filled the gratitude tank up.
Recently, I was almost at the end of my last empty journal. Due to positive and supportive words at work, I won a brand new blank journal. What a great, and timely gift!
I rarely wear a facemask because of COPD. You CANNOT breathe in a facemask when you already have difficulty breathing. I do, however, social distance, avoid crowds (which is more than one other person), and NO close contact in general.
So, the thought of going to a store for a new journal was causing some anxiety.
But, Abba knew and Abba delivered! I think I would truly starve if it wasn't for my AGJ. I don't ever want to test that theory, though.
Will an AGJ work for everyone. Doubtful. Still, one will never know if they don't even try it.
My AGJ is a true lifeline. It keeps me (along with my Bible), linked to my Abba. And, Abba is the source of all my joy, happiness, contentedness, and gratitude. So, yes, it is a lifeline.
If you don't have an AGJ, wouldn't it be worth the effort to at least give it a shot?
In case you have not figured out why I refer to my AGJ as a miracle, it's because if that could change me from one who had known only negativity into a positively positive minded person, it IS a miracle.
Don't even think for a split second that it doesn't take intentional effort or that it isn't a 24/7 quest. It IS.
But, my thinking has changed from "I wish I was more positive. I wish I could be more upbeat. I wish I knew how and when to give compliments!" into one whose boss has said brings more bright spots into his day every day and he appreciates it.
Yep, that's what is called an about face, for sure.
Since I am so very new to this, I don't want you to take my word for this. So, we all know I love to read and research. So, I went digging...
...and came up with numerous sites that can do a better job of reinforcing this, my new mindset, than I can.
"Gratitude is about feeling and expressing appreciation: for all we’ve received, all that we have (however little it may be), and for all that has not befallen us. It functions as an antidote for attachment to what we want but don’t have and aversion to what we have but don’t want. Gratitude is the opposite of being discontented." (Note 1)
"It’s valuable to be aware that nearly all experiences have both “positive” and “negative” aspects. Consistent with the above quote from Ram Dass, even circumstances that are brutally physically and/or emotionally painful, often contain considerable psycho-spiritual blessings in the forms of learning, growth, and healing. Sometimes we have to work harder to locate the positive and unearth its gifts (and sometimes these become manifest only in retrospect)—but if we make the time and invest the energy to look closely and search consciously, we will find them. There is always something to be grateful for, no matter how negative or desperate things may seem." (Still Note 1)
After reading some of the quotes from my research, you will be convinced, I researched before I wrote. Not true. When I am working on a blog, I write what I have to say before I even pull up a search engine.
It's pretty much a game with myself to see if what I am or have discovered on my own will line up with what "experts" put forth.
"Two specific ways you can practice the skill of being grateful are by writing gratitude letters and making gratitude lists. A gratitude letter is one you write to someone in your life to express appreciation for ways they have helped you and/or been there for you. Gratitude letters can be about events that have happened in the past or are happening in the present, and often help to strengthen or repair relationships. A gratitude list consists of writing down three to five things for which you’re grateful every day, each week, at other intervals, or under situation-specific circumstances." (Yep, still Note 1)
Okay, here the author uses the term letter and list. I just like writing in journals. Guess that's just my "weapon" of choice. :)
"In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be too easy to just take things for granted without truly appreciating what you have. But if you don’t appreciate the things you have, how are you ever going to feel real joy?" (Note 2)
Bingo!! That is exactly why I started my Attitude of Gratitude quest. If it could work for me, it can work for pretty much anyone. And, by me taking the hard knocks first, you get there quicker and with fewer bruises, right? So, you are welcome. LOL!
"While we’re on the subject of saying thank you, don’t just think it or offer up silent thanks to the universe. Thank you are two of the most powerful words you can say, and they can truly lift someone else’s day, even if you don’t know it." (More Note 2)
That has always been one of the hardest things for me to say, for whatever reason. That may be the subject of a future blog, but, it was one of the first things I worked on in this journey.
Now, I don't have to look for reasons to say "thank you." I have found I am surrounded by them and just need to pick and choose which to highlight with the actual words.
"Thoughts can be fleeting, but when you decide to keep a journal, you are making a commitment to gratitude. Writing it down also allows you to be more creative, and really examine what it is you’re thankful for, and why." (Why stop now on Note 2)
Another of my blogs was about learning by writing things down. Not typing them on a computer, not rehearsing them or saying them out loud. Just the act of putting pen to paper helps us truly learn something like no other method. Try it.
"If you're like me, you wish this feeling could last all year long. Just imagine feeling proud, thankful, and joyful on an ongoing basis, not only during the holiday season." (Note 3)
Yes, yes, yes! That is absolutely true for and about me and my quest. There is no greater feeling than to realize you are just sitting around smiling. Not just smiling. Sporting a grin that goes from ear to ear from inner happiness.
"A grateful heart is a contented heart. A contented heart is a simple heart. And a simple heart leads to a simplified life." (Note 4)
Are you noticing a trend here? A pattern of intentional thought and action?
See, it isn't rocket-science hard. It's as easy as intentionally, regardless of how you feel, putting a big smile on your fact. Sooner rather than later, the smile will spread to your eyes and will become so ingrained that you don't even think about it anymore.
Very cool, isn't it?
"I don’t know about you but I love that part about Thanksgiving.
Hearing what my family members are thankful for seems to elevate the mood throughout the meal and that feeling extends far into the evening.
But expressing gratitude doesn’t need to be saved for Thanksgiving Day- why keep such a great moment just for one day of the year?" (Note 5)
In my world, every single day is Christmas. Why can't it also be Thanksgiving? I can't think of any reason why not.
"Take a Break from Social Media. Throughout the year, I would occasionally delete all the social apps off of my phone to focus more on what’s in front of me. Yes, we all know that social media is the primary reason for depression and anxiety. Moreover, its important to step aside and simply rest. In the beginning, it is hard but it’s all worth it. You’ll feel a lot lighter and more open to an attitude of gratitude." (Note 6)
Admittedly, when you utilize social media as a work tool, this step is difficult to pull off. But, for any who have noticed, I am rarely online after I get my work stuff done, anymore.
Hmmmm... maybe that right there is why I am smiling so much more. Hm...
"Having an attitude of gratitude doesn’t cost any money. It doesn’t take much time. But the benefits of gratitude are enormous." (Note 7)
Indeed, there is no cost at all in learning to have an attitude of gratitude. Unless, you go the extra step I did and start purchasing journals or notebooks. Still, that cost is minimal and it buys you a permanent and forever record of your life's journey from the moment it began anew.
Before we close this out for the week, please take the time to read all of the articles that I footnoted above. While the cost is minimal, it does require commitment and effort on our part.
All of the articles sport a common theme, but each offers a different version or road map, if you will, on how to reach the end goal.
So, are you ready for a new adventure? Come on, let's do this!