The Grateful Book

September 21, 2015

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For several years I was mired in grief as I struggled to come to terms with those feelings of loss we all have when someone close to us dies and we either ignored the signs or felt helpless through the process that, in many cases, lasts for years.

As my grief cycle lost some of its hold on me I started reading again in my search for stepping stones to help me rise from a serious depression to a brighter life. I also turned to friends and relatives and my new boyfriend and they have all stood by my side as I slowly beat back the viny tendrils of my own mind that were trying to hold me back.

One of the suggestions I came across was called The Grateful Book. That’s not the name of a book, but is an exercise to help turn the tables on the mind and it has been of immense help to me.

The premise is simple

  1. Buy a brand new spiral notebook and a pen that you can keep by your bed.
  2. Each day, either before turning out the light at night or before rising in the morning, write down 10 things you are truly grateful for. (For me, this usually takes up most of a page so I just use a new page for each day.)

The page of my book from this morning follows as an example. However, to give you a better understanding of WHY I write what I do let me tell you where I live and what I saw yesterday.

I live in an apartment in a barn. The apartment was converted from a farm manager office with the horse stall next to it remodelled into a bedroom and the storage room behind converted to a bath room.

There are three other 12′ x 12′ ‘apartments’ in this facility that do not have bathrooms or windows, but there is a common kitchen and a toilet in the office in the second barn. The people in the other apartments bathe late at night, with a hose, outside in the dark. There is no hot water.

In comparison, my 700 sq.ft. apartment is the Taj Mahal. I have two window air conditioners, a small window, a real stove and refrigerator, and a full bathroom with hot water as well as my bedroom.

Yesterday, the woman who lives with her husband in one of the rooms proudly showed me their home. It was spotless, smelled of cleaning products, and had a dresser, a mattress on the floor, and storage bins stacked in one corner. There was a coffee pot on the dresser and it must have been over 100 degrees in the windowless room. She had a big smile and was so happy to show it to me.

So, here is this morning’s page from my Grateful Book:

  • I am grateful every day that I have a boyfriend who is a good man and cares about me.
  • I am grateful every day that I have a kitchen with all the appliances I need and extra ones that are convenient.
  • I am grateful every day that I have running water and a functional indoor bathroom where I can privately bathe.
  • I am grateful every day that I have lots of clothes for any weather condition.
  • I am grateful every day that I have boxes and shelves of books to read about a variety of subjects from humor to self improvement and education to science fiction.
  • I am grateful every day that I wake up each morning to the sounds of life all around me.
  • I am grateful every day that I can watch the sunset from my front door.
  • I am grateful every day for the incredible beauty I see in clouds, water, trees, flowers, animals and the faces around me.
  • I am grateful every day for my functioning brain and the creative thoughts I have as well as all the memories of my life.
  • I am grateful every day for the taste of clean water, the smell of coffee, the sounds of birds, the sight of growing things and the touch of others.
  • I am grateful every day for the lifetime of hugs I have received and for each one I will get in the future.

Sometimes I have a particular person or event on my mind and what comes to mind is all the things related to that. Many themes repeat, like my boyfriend, my sister, my friends, adventures and travel I have enjoyed, moments I remember, my animals, vehicles that are old but functional, my job, educational grants I’ve recieved…

At first it was hard to think of a single good thing to be grateful for. Then, as I got into the thought patterns of actually seeing what is around me, it became easier and easier to be grateful for everything.

IMG_2056It’s hard to believe, as I sit here inside a solid building and type on my computer that is connected to the rest of the world through the internet while a cool breeze from the air conditioner wafts the warm scent of toasting cinnamon English muffin through the air and a little black and white cat stretches in contentment and companionship next to me, that there are places in the world where bombs are falling, homes are being invaded, women are not allowed education or employment. And that my very neighbors don’t have bathrooms.

How can I NOT be grateful for what I have and where I live?

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10 Responses to “The Grateful Book”

  1. We do have to be reminded from time to time how much we have to be grateful for living in this country and having the family and friends and pets that we live with. Nature presents gifts every day. A Grateful Book is a wonderful idea.

    • kayuk said

      Thanks for your comment! My Grateful Book kick-started a wonderful change in outlook that resulted in a change in my attitude, that resulted in a huge boost in my happiness. I don’t think it’s possible to be happy without first being grateful and realizing that everything is a gift.

  2. Excellent reminder.

    We may not live in mansions and have household help, but most of the world is grateful for a room to live in and running water. We go to the faucet to wash our hands, fill our coffee pots with clean water, and flush the toilet.

    As I sit here blowing my nose for the 1000th time today, I remember that not everyone in the world has tissues (and certainly not tissues with lotion). 🙂

    • kayuk said

      It’s funny (not really) but when I first moved into the area I thought this was a temporary residence until I could sell the horses. By the time the last of the horses were given away, there was no money left for a move and I was NOT in any mood to be grateful that I was still stuck in the barn.

      It took a lot of thought and work on my attitude as well as time to take a good look around for me to realize just how much I have to be grateful for.

      I think a lot of people are miserable where they are, sometimes even in big houses with windows. Their focus is inward and on their own small area of the vast universe rather than outward on the infinity that surrounds us.

      No matter what they have, they are not happy or grateful. I was like that.

      Sometimes, just a small change in thought pattern… from envy to grateful… can make a gigantic difference in happiness.

    • kayuk said

      PS…I knew you would understand.

      • Our puppies and kitties mean more to us than designer furniture. By the time they’re adults, they’ve redesigned our homes anyway. 🙂

        There’s nothing like waking up to a kitty curled around your arm and a doggie squeezing you from both sides. That happened this morning and the thought makes me smile. 🙂

  3. leggypeggy said

    We are lucky and have much to be grateful for. You’ve captured it well.

  4. Beautiful words, Vicki! Sometimes we are so mired down by the weight of our concerns that we fail to see the Light all around us,
    I’m grateful I found this, that you shared it, and that others will find it too.
    ☕️❤️

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