Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Gratitude Jar

My friends and I share a common form of gratitude mindfulness, though we practice it in various ways. It’s easy to find gratitude at the holidays when our family is gathered together and we are visibly reminded of our blessings. It is often harder to feel those gratitudes the other ten months of the year.
My family and I do something for Yule, which could just as easily be done for Thanksgiving. It involves just a tiny bit of preparation, which we start around now. We make ourselves a gratitude jar.
You’ll need a jar or a canister of some kind. Tie a ribbon around it. Cover it with a collage of magazine pictures that make you think of gratitude or joy. Put it somewhere visible, but out of the way. Better yet, stick a sign on your fridge with the word gratitude on it as a reminder. Preparation is done!
Then, throughout the year, it becomes an exercise in mindfulness. I try to do one every week, one thing that I am grateful for, one thing that that made me smile, that made my life easier, that made my view of the world brighter. I have found that the true trick is not to put “family” or “work”. Instead, try to put into words what it is about those things you are grateful for, like: “I am grateful for a partner who makes me dinner when I am fighting a deadline” and “I am grateful for the editor who accepted my story.”
And watch for what I call back-handed gratitudes. They fool a lot of people into thinking they’re being grateful. You might think this sounds honest: “I’m glad my husband finally did the dishes without me having to ask him to.” And it is honest. But it’s a gratitude that hinges on an underlying unhappiness. Try not to qualify them. A better way to think of it would be: “I’m grateful my husband did the dishes tonight.”
In gratitude work, the way you say it highlights how you feel it. Gratitude comes from your center. Experiencing gratitude will change the way you see and verbalize the blessings in your life. The way you learn to convey the gratitude you feel will help you experience more gratitude in your life.
Get your whole household in on it. Write down the people you are grateful for as they help you or lift your spirits. Write a gratitude for the neighbor who helps you jump your car when your battery dies. Write one for plants gifted to you in the spring, just when you thought you weren’t going to be able to budget it in. For the day you sat so quietly in the woods that a bird landed on your head. Write down moments you have that fill your heart with joy and wonder.
And then, next holiday season, between November and January, take turns reading them out loud, a few at a time. Fill the season with reminders of your blessings.

Or, save them. And on a dark and bleak day, when you’ve hit your wall and don’t think you can survive another day of it (we all have them), pull one out and let it be a light for your soul. Let it be a reminder to you of the bright days, a reminder that the hopeful days, like the sun, return.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.