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Keeping A Thankful Journal

It is an annual tradition in our family to go around the Thanksgiving table and have everyone express one thing they are thankful for. One of my favorites is when my nephew said he was thankful he didn’t have to clean up the mess!

But too soon, Thanksgiving is behind us, the stomach ache from eating too much turkey is long gone and the rat race begins anew. We get caught up in the stress, the negative feelings the holidays can elicit and we forget about all the good things.

For instance, this is my first holiday season without my Mom. We called her the “crazy Christmas lady” because she loved the holidays so much. I spent 54 Christmas’s with her … never missed a one. She taught us that the true meaning of Christmas was in giving not receiving  and made sure we filled the holidays with charitable acts. So there is a hole in my heart this holiday season, one that could easily drag me down.

So I have two choices: drown my sorrows in pints of Hagen Dasz and be depressed or develop anattitude of gratitude. So knowing that the holidays could be difficult, I started a “thankful journal” on November 1. Sounds cheesy I know, but it works.

It is too easy in life to focus on the negatives – not enough time, never enough money, kid problems, job hassles and more. Like the tape we secure our holiday packages with, it’s like we get stuck on the cons instead of the pros. Sure we were thankful on Thanksgiving, but what about the other 364 days?

I can’t take credit for the idea of a thankful journal. It’s been around a long time. The concept is relatively simple. Every night before I go to bed, I write down one thing I am thankful for. Sometimes it’s small things like when my teenager cleaned up his dishes without having been told. Other times it’s bigger things like when I took my car into be fixed expecting a large bill and only owed $75 or when my sciatica flared up but quickly went away.

The outcome? It forces me to focus on the positive. To be grateful for some things I may have taken for granted. And to celebrate small victories.

If you’ve read the book “The Secret”  it’s based on the notion that positive thoughts attract positive actions. Probably true. I do know this: knowing I have to write one good thing in my journal down nightly makes me more aware of the good things that are happening in my life throughout the day.

My entry for November 1? “There was a little girl at Walgreens today buying her Mom a birthday present. She thought she had enough money and counted up all the change she had been saving for a bottle of perfume but came up short. There was pennies, nickles and dimes spread all over the counter. She started crying, but I quickly handed the clerk the remainder she owed. Her smile was priceless. Thanks Mom for teaching me what’s important!”

Sometimes it’s the simple things.

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