How many of us have written (or started) gratitude journals in our lives? I, myself, have started many. I always start with the best intentions to make it part of my everyday life. The problem is that after my daily list contains my gratitude for my family, my health and home, I start to draw a blank. As a good student, I can easily make a list of many things I am grateful for, but it starts to feel like a rote assignment or obligation. I usually end up abandoning written gratitude after days or weeks of daily lists that look very much the same.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon my JOY JOURNAL that my gratitude shifted focus. It all started with a memory of our five year old daughter on a trip to Sea World years ago. We were watching an ice skating show in an enclosure, and she left her bench seat to sit on the step beside it so she could see over the adult heads that blocked her view. She was mesmerized by the sight of the twirling ice dancers as they glided on the frozen ice. As we watched her, she held her hand to her eyes and made a clicking motion with her fingers. “What are you doing?” we asked. “I’m taking a picture so I can remember this for always,” my wise child whispered. As a young adult, she no longer has any memory of that moment but her dad and I have always kept that moment close to our hearts as an example of really breathing in the present.
I remembered that moment a few years ago when I was struggling to find the joy in my very comfortable, suburban life and feeling ashamed that even though I was surrounded by things I should be grateful for, I wasn’t able to feel the sense of gratitude that every magazine and book told me I would find in a gratitude journal. My daughter’s moment inspired my JOY JOURNAL – one moment everyday that has caught my attention and helped me focus on the present moment. Some days I write a brief entry about a big moment….gliding on a sparkling river in Maine on a canoe. Most often, I write about the small moments that never seemed important enough for my gratitude journal….the perfect glass of ice tea on a hot day or an unexpected text from my daughter checking in to see how I’m doing. I write a brief sentence or phrase at night in my journal before I go to sleep. It is a way for my busy, often negative mind to dwell briefly on the positive before I close my day.
However, the biggest change that my JOY JOURNAL has brought to my life is the shift in my daily focus. I find myself noticing more in my present moments – the colorful butterfly that suddenly crosses my path or the grateful smile I receive from an elderly person as I help them with their grocery cart -and wondering if THAT is the moment that will make it into my journal. Another unexpected benefit of my journal is the solace it gives me in the dark seasons of life. When I am feeling as if the joy in my life has disappeared, and despairing that I will ever find it again, all I have to do is look to my pages to remind me that joyful moments are all around me….if only I take the time to notice them.
What is your moment today? You don’t have to commit to an entire journal. You don’t even have to commit to writing anything down at all. Just try to pay attention to this one day that opens before you and notice the moments that catch your breath. WHAT WILL BE YOUR MOMENT TODAY?