Note: Older post, lost in the shuffle... re-posted here.
How much more could we enjoy our lives if we made a concentrated effort to be grateful? For a whole year? Every day? ZestyJenny came up with this great idea over at her blog, and has already committed to recording a daily, itemized list of her own Year of Gratitude. Her readers are adding their own thoughts to the comments, and Ms.Camille has adopted it on her blog too.
Well, you guessed it: This year, I’ll be hopping on that bandwagon… for a few reasons.
For one,”The Year of _______” seems to be a popular concept for modern, true-life storytelling, if you will. Take one idea, pound it for a year, and see how it affects your life/outlook/ideals. Not a bad outline… each entry can be as brief or verbose as you like and you get to see a whole story arc by the predefined end. And–depending on what you’re doing–there may be quantifiable measurements of improvement or ineffectiveness.
And besides… it’s only one year. If things don’t work out, you haven’t lost too much time, right? One year is not too demanding. It’s not a resolution to change your whole way of life. In the grand scheme of things, “a year of ______” is pretty low commitment. Anyone can do anything for a year. (This paragraph can’t decide if it’s meant to be genuine and in earnest, or slightly tongue in cheek. It may be both.)
I entered “year of” into my search engine (note the absence of verbing a commodity… I’m trying) to see what other people are finding valuable enough to commit a year to. Here’s what I came up with:
- The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible (Self explanatory, I think.)
- A Year of Slow Cooking: Exactly what it sounds like. I think I’ll be back to this website for recipes… we loooove our slow cooker!
- An article on the nationwide effort of many college campuses for a “Year of Sustainability.”
- A Year without Made in China: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy (Listen to the NPR interview with the author.)
- A Year of Reading: A blog from two teachers with TONS of books for kids and reading resources for teachers (HawaiiMom, you’ll like this one!).
- The Year of Yes: A memoir from a single woman who said yes to every date offer, no matter what.
- The Year of Listening: Hear the results of a musician’s decision to record one sound from his world each day in 2009.
Perhaps aside from the slow-cooking, these are all basically attempts to live up to our best potential. Live simply, open ourselves to knowledge and opportunity, heighten awareness of our surroundings.
And that brings me to the other reason I’m interested in a Year of Gratitude… many of these “Year of ____” concepts are focused on “What can I do? How can I change my life? How will I reach my goals.” And yes, that’s all very important. There is no improvement without action.
But. But. But.
There is an awful lot in this world that is done for us. We are given so opportunities for change and so many different kinds of support in reaching those goals. More than that, we are given beautiful things to look at, delicious foods to eat, ridiculous things to laugh at… you get the idea.
I guess what I’m getting at is the good old fashioned advice from my mom, both my grandmothers, and every bible school teacher I ever had: Count your blessings. There are so many.
And that’s what I’m going to do this year. I think of it as an extension of my frequent request when I’m feeling down for friends to “tell me something good that happened today.” But I’ll be telling myself (and you!) and I’m going to try to focus on things I have absolutely nothing to do with. Things that were given to me, by God, nature, my community, my friends, and sure, by circumstance.
I don’t expect it will always be easy to find three things to be glad about every day. But I have this theory that Gratitude can be as tenacious as Faith, as insistent as Hope, if you train it up right.
The Year of Gratitude starts now.
Today I am thankful for:
- Being raised by word-lovers. Monday morning emails from Mom are the best.
- Coffee. Given unto the world by the pretty green berries (cherries?) and provided to me by employers who understand the positive effects of caffeine on employees. Again with the Monday morning.
- Friends who have faith in the power of gratitude. Thanks for the idea, ladies.