"A gratitude journal is a diary of things for which one is grateful. Gratitude journals are used by individuals who wish to focus their attention on the positive things in their lives."
This definition is followed by a lengthy summary of current research citing the benefits of keeping some sort of written record (a place to document one’s reasons for gratitude) as well as studies examining the most effective methods:
– How often to write it down – daily? weekly?
-How many examples to include – (Most studies investigating gratitude journals have found that including 3-10 items in each gratitude journal entry yields the most beneficial results.)
And as I read and reread the above article and others, I wondered about the glaring omission of the second half of the word, the “giving” part of thanksgiving. As I read social media lists of "thanks for my family and my friends and all this food…” it seemed as if the whole world…(okay, country, on this national holiday) was grateful in an inch deep “hooray for my stuff” kind of way.
It seems that many of us are using the word “thanksgiving,” saying what it is for which we are giving thanks without acknowledging to whom we are giving thanks.
In normal daily living this would be considered unacceptable or at least awkward: Consider these comments:
This Christmas I am giving a basketball.
I am going to give a piece of my mind.
I will be giving $1000 dollar.
The question screaming to be answered is “to whom.” Am I giving the basketball to you? Who is the unfortunate one on the receiving end of a piece of my mind?...(a piece I am likely to miss sorely, and which will cost me my own peace of mind…but that’s a different post.) Who is the lucky recipient of $1000?
To whom am I giving thanks?
Is my focus mostly on the gifts,
or am I centered on the Giver?
When I am thankful for my family,
for my table loaded with food,
for my houseful of stuff
– am I just feeling smug that I’ve got all this, am I glad that my kids are so amazing, am I proud of myself and pleased that I could accumulate all this stuff?? Oh, ouch.
This is not what I want, not who I want to be. But I don’t want to give up, I want to move forward to a better place. So…I take another look, at
A gratitude journal? I’ve been keeping one for years, and I won’t stop now. I am living out the benefits every day – reduced anxiety and depression, increased resilience, a perspective that helps me see what is good in every (hard) day! But I don't want to lose track of the Source of these amazing gifts.
Thanksgiving Day celebration? I want to say “Yes!”
- yes to gathering with those I love,
-yes to remembering and being grateful for loved ones who aren’t here,
-yes to enjoying family traditions (My part is hickory nut cake and baked corn as usual) and
-yes to laughter and camaraderie around the table.
I want to restore and strengthen my foundation of gratitude,
of thanks giving,
the One from whom all blessings flow.
I want to be grateful not just for the gifts, but even more,
for the Giver of every good and perfect gift. (James 1:17)
And for the other gifts, the ones I can’t see as perfect or even good?
For those gifts I also trust the Giver, who makes all things beautiful in His time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
And at the top of today's gratitude list?
On days when the turkey smell wanders like a good memory through every room -
gratitude for The Presence.
And on days when I wander, room to room, grieving for reasons I cannot explain -
gratitude for The Presence.
For God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
God chooses to be present,
I will choose to be grateful.
Not only for the gifts, but even more, for the Giver.
O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.; for His steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1 RSV