As I began this year, I set in motion a monthly challenge. In January, my plan was to commit to daily meditation. Dan Harris insisted that doing this would make me 10% happier. I don’t know that I can quantify my degree of happiness. However, I had no idea how much I would benefit from not only beginning the practice but continuing it.
The second thing I started in January was re-reading, “Simple Abundance.” It is a daily reading and is a delightful accompaniment to meditation. A significant key to Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book is to consciously be thankful for what you have in your life. She even recommends keeping a “Gratitude Journal.”
Three months later, I sit in isolation in my office amid a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 20,000 Americans and infected more than 525,000. Every state of the union has reported cases. On March 22, my brother passed away suddenly (not from Covid-19), and later that day, in one of my less graceful movements, I tripped over Ted (the cat) and went flying face-first into a wall. Fortunately, I was only hospitalized for a couple of days. I still have a hematoma over my right eye, although the right side of my face and my neck are no longer one large bruise.
“So,” you ask, “you’ve decided to write about gratitude?”
Earlier this week, I was listening to GMA in the morning, and Robin Roberts repeated something her mother used to say, “You can’t put a limit on gratitude.” Now admittedly, my last 30 days have not been the most joyful, and I’m not even remotely Pollyannaish. However, thanks to my Gratitude Journal, I have found at least 5 things per day for which I can be grateful. On days when the stars seem to be out of alignment, I can still be grateful for my health, my home, my pets (even when they trip me), my family, and friends. Looking at the news, I see people lining up for miles to get food; people hospitalized unable to have visitors to cheer them (talk about isolation!).
So, in answer to your question, “Yes, I choose to write about gratitude.” I believe gratitude is a choice we can all embrace — even when nothing seems to be going well. John-Baptiste Massieu, a bishop during the French Revolution, and also a deaf educator, suggested that “Gratitude is the Memory of the Heart.” It’s Easter and Passover — what better time to fill your heart with gratitude?