Gratitude: A Year in Review

gratitudeHappy New Year!  Exactly 365 days ago I wrote about my desire to focus more of my time and help my family do the same on gratitude.  The goal was simple:  write down things we are grateful for and put these quick notes into this jar to be read at the end of 2014.  

Additionally, I kickstarted this effort with my own goal of spending a month capturing things I am grateful for as I saw them in real time. ¬†Many of these items were nature related – sunsets, sunrises, sounds from nature, running in the rain, etc. ¬†Nonetheless, the spirit of the concept felt right – spend a few minutes focusing on things that are enriching. Plus it offered us a fun activity at the dinner table on New Year’s Eve when we read the quick notes captured from the prior year. Here are some stats and observations:

  • It is easy to be grateful – but hard to do it consistently
  • The act of physically documenting quick moments takes effort – sometimes just enough to not document it at all
  • There is a strange internal struggle here – I found myself wanting to remind myself to be grateful for something each day yet resisting the urge to set a physical reminder for fear of creating¬†forced gratitude. ¬†To me this seemed to miss¬†the spirit of gratefulness (note: ¬†even writing this I am thinking wouldn’t it be better to force some gratefulness daily vs. letting it happen naturally and potentially less frequently?).
  • Like when I meditate – I feel better after moments of gratefulness
  • There are a million things to be grateful for yet the “amazing sunset” or “amazing vista” type were the ones I tended to capture.
  • 57 physical notes of gratitude were captured in 2014 by me and the family
    • Charlie – 1 – admittedly handicapped slightly given he is just learning to write words
    • Marilyn (MIL) – 1
    • Stewart – 2
    • Will – 4
    • Cindy – 21
    • Jason – 28
  • The weather and post-running endorphins were strong thematic contributors for us.

So what am I taking from this? ¬†1) Keep it up – yes this means year 2 of the gratitude jar. ¬†2) Increase the frequency – likely through a reminder or prompt. ¬†3) Don’t think about it as much – just do it. ¬†4) I liked the simple blog/tweet capture method – I wonder if others would be willing to join me in sharing theirs? ¬†5) Move the jar around so we “see” it – keeping it in the same place may have helped us “forget” it was there if that makes sense.

For those truly interested in what was captured I’ve taken a few minutes to document them below, relatively anonymously and in no order.

  • I am grateful for when Will talks in an awesome British accent
  • I am grateful for spending a long weekend at a running event and a supportive family who lets me go
  • Will playing with Charlie for an hour and making him cars
  • Great morning runs!
  • For Christmastime
  • For a happy Charlie
  • Quiet time with my children
  • Wine
  • For luck – my pants zipper came off while dressing at home today!
  • For food on our plates everyday, a roof over our head and being able to help those less fortunate
  • Crisp fall days with kids playing outside together
  • A strong, healthy body
  • For giant pickles falling from the sky
  • Great friends and dragon dances
  • Crisp fall days
  • That my husband has my back
  • For my first day at Middle School
  • Brothers who play together
  • Summertime traffic patterns
  • For cold, rainy days because when the sun comes out it seems brighter and warmer
  • Warm hugs when I am sad
  • An afternoon with my smart, charming, up-for-anything daughter Stewart – sandwiches, a visit to a boat ramp and video games in a bowling alley arcade have never been more fun!
  • For a note from Will – one sweet, thoughtful kid.
  • For how cute it is for a 5 year old to ask: ¬†“Who is your 2nd favorite ‘pro-fish-inal’ football team?”
  • For Jim’s help shoveling snow and for our former neighbors the Hart’s for teaching me the beauty of a shoveled drive (even in the South).
  • For kids who slept until 6:30am on Easter
  • For a family who supports my hiking hobby – does not make leaving them any easier
  • For Cindy
  • For our children who enjoy playing outside
  • For running in the rain
  • For Cindy’s sense of humor and wit
  • For kid’s excitement upon approaching Disney World – magical!
  • For running in the snow in Central Park
  • For Will eating my green peppers
  • For Dad interrupting Mom
  • For Sandy and her getting to know the kids
  • For crisp, cold days
  • For fireflies at dusk
  • For cool weather in July
  • For Sandy leaving us a meal for our return from Disney. ¬†Priceless.
  • For the great outdoors
  • For working out with Will
  • For another fun, safe summer w/ our kids and a post-preschool “raise”!
  • For the surprise of spaghetti sauce on a busy night where dinner was not planned
  • I am grateful for Will
  • The first buds on the trees in the spring
  • That an A/C unit failing is something we are prepared for financially
  • For my wife trying new things (clipless pedals!)
  • For ‘sneaking’ s’mores with my best friend before dinner
  • Children who trust
  • That the Polar Vortex is over
  • Fun, family dinners
  • For being married for 15 years to an amazing person and my best friend
  • For 1×1 bike/hike with Charlie, especially tossing ‘monkey balls’ into the creek
  • For the hidden 100 Grand bar I just found in the wine cork drawer
  • Bad attitudes turned good
  • Who you are.

As always, I would be interested in hearing from anyone on this subject.

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