One is filled with comical things my son has said through the years.
Another logs my eating and exercise routines. (Yeah, that one isn’t used very faithfully.)
One is tagged “2009 – Doing One Thing Differently Each Day.” (That was a challenge I’ll never take on again!)
Still another notebook is devoted to favorite quotes. It was a gift from my dear friend Beth, back in 2001. Besides filling out a dozen pages with quotes that she knew I would love, Beth inscribed the first page thus: “In celebration of the many words of wisdom that we’ve shared…and the many more to come.” Yes, that’s beyond lovely and thoughtful, I know. She is like that.
Yet another of my favorite notebooks features an ongoing listing of things for which I’m grateful. Not surprisingly, it’s called “Gratitude Journal.”
In the beginning I began to write down everything for which I was grateful, from friends and loved ones (of course) to the cobalt blue cup on my bathroom counter, to the sweet smell of honeysuckle, to the comical cows on Just My Joe’s farm, to the furry feline that jumps on my bed and wakes me with a head-to-head push.
Needless to say, the notebook began to fill quickly.
It has served its purpose. I had intended it to be a tool that I could continually build. A tool that I could turn to when I’m feeling defeated, or blue, or downright self-pitying. A tool that, in an instant, could place before my eyes the thousands of hidden blessings that make up my life.
But, true to my nature, I’ve tired of that too.
I began to realize that while the collective list makes me feel good, the act of writing those brief items is without growth, without greater meaning.
So, I’ve decided to make a change and I’d love your opinion.
Going forward, in a different color ink, I’m going to also list the negatives in my life.
Wait! Hear me out.
Following each negative, I’m going to add whatever positive twist I can identify…at that time, or later if necessary.
I firmly believe that every situation in life can be viewed from at least two perspectives. The point is to identify the positive in each situation.
I think I need to conduct this exercise more than I need to build aimless lists of blessings.
To master an instrument, you have to practice. Looking at the music isn’t enough.
To control your weight, you have to exercise. Logging your physical movements doesn’t produce results (despite how much I wish it did).
To truly appreciate our experiences…to appreciate them even in the midst of adversity…well, I think that requires practice and exercise too, an effort beyond the act of logging them.
I can’t always see the positive when a negative hits me. Sometimes weeks, months, years go by before I see the positive.
As example, it took me years to recognize the rebirth that followed my divorce.
Another example is the time God called home my beloved Aunt Jean. In short time, her daughter–my cousin Darlene–established an even closer relationship with my mom, her aunt. That touched my mother’s heart, and in turn, mine.
We’ve all lost relationships and opportunities, and cried. Then, years later, when we’ve moved on to other things, we’ve looked back and thought, “Wow, who’d have thought it?” OR “Phew, glad that one didn’t work out.”
Point is, we’ve all lost or hurt, but there’s no reason we have to lose the lesson or the positive outcome that eventually followed.
If I have a lost opportunity―a negative―recorded, I’ll be able to go to my journal, sometimes immediately, sometimes years later, and record the eventual positive that resulted. A reminder that there is a season for everything, that God knows what we don’t, that the doors He closes are accompanied with others opening elsewhere.
I look at it as transforming my experiences into imperative lessons for the future. When my life feels emptied, I want to be reminded of how truly full my life was even at that moment.
So, any thoughts dear readers? Should I take this path less traveled in my gratitude journal or should I stick with the proven and familiar? Anybody else tried this twist in their journals?
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.— Ecclesiastes 3:1