When I retired after 34 years of teaching on June 10, 2014, I found that I had become quite negative, paranoid, and cynical. I had been targeted as a “needs improvement” teacher during my first observation of the year. It wasn’t because of anything I was or wasn’t doing in the classroom. It was because I hadn’t participated in any of the professional development workshops that had been held over the summer. Instead, I had chosen to be the primary care giver and coordinator for my mother when she was diagnosed with cancer, and on days I wasn’t with her, I was babysitting my grandsons. When my principal displayed no compassion, I found myself going further down the negative attitude path.
Escaping that attitude (or lifestyle) has proved difficult. A psychologist would probably have also declared me depressed.
The negativity had affected every aspect of my life: my eating habits, my exercising, my pursuit of creativity, my housekeeping habits, my sleep patterns, – everything. As the year 2014 drew to a close, I realized I had to take my attitude by the reins and pull hard to the direction of the positive.
I have read how keeping a gratitude journal helps in seeking out the positive in your life. I had tried it before, but I had trouble being consistent. I missed a day, then found myself missing a week. Then if it was ok to miss a week, why not a month a month. I found myself too tired to write at the end of any given day to write, and days where I could search hard and find nothing to be grateful for. (As I look back, there were things to be grateful for each day, but I was so engulfed in the negativity that I couldn’t find it.) Finally, I couldn’t remember where I had placed the hard-bound calendar that I had purchased.
This year, 2015, I have started again, but with some clear cut rules.
1. I bought a large, bright spiral notebook that makes identifying things I am grateful for easier.
2. During the day, if I find something I should be grateful for, I jot down a brief note about it.
3. I only look to write down three things I am grateful for. If more tumble onto the paper, that’s great.
4. I take time to think about one special or memorable event of the day and write at least a paragraph about it.
5. I added a section for the day’s philofax 365/30 list. If I can’t think of something to be grateful for right away, I can focus on the list for the day. I have found that things to be grateful for sneak into the forefront of my mind while I am thinking of something else.
6. If I am too tired at the end of the day, the next morning I make looking back at the day a priority.
I want to live the year 2015 in a more positive, upbeat way. Do you? How can you personalize your gratitude journal? How do you remember to log the things you are grateful for?