In America, November is a month that starts off with elections for various state and federal positions and draws to an end with a day of Thanksgiving. In homes and restaurants across the United States, we will sit down to a table heavy with turkeys, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pies. Before we partake of the feast, we will pause with families and friends to express our thanks and gratitude for all of the blessings in our life. Without a doubt, with all that is happening in the world, the list of things to be thankful for this year will be longer and more heartfelt.
In her 1995 book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, author Sarah Ban Breathnach provides a daily guide for looking at your ordinary, everyday life and using the details as a source of reflection, revelation and reconnection. In Simple Abundance, each day of the 365 days in a year has a title and a quote. Although every male in my life has deemed this book the ultimate “chick” book, it seems appropriate with all that is happening around the world to share this with you as we move on with our lives and business.
As we approach this American day of thanksgiving and prepare our individual lists of that for which we are grateful, I’m drawn to one of the simple yet effective ideas provided in the Simple Abundance book. Author Breathnach recommends starting a journal in which every day you write down at least five things for which you are grateful. It’s “shortlist” thanksgiving on a daily basis.
I started keeping this gratitude journal over twenty years ago and have found it an interesting and sometimes thought-provoking task. On the “not so good” days, it takes me a while to come up with a list of five things and on other days, my list contains ten or twelve items.
I go back occasionally and review what—over time—has made it to the list. It tells me a lot about who I am and what speaks to my heart. There are four or five things that make a regular appearance in my gratitude journal—family members who love and sustain me, the unexpected and heart-warming laughter that only the closest of friends can share, the kindness of a perfect stranger, the people who love and accept me unconditionally, colleagues who help me achieve a hard-fought goal and the satisfaction of important work.
As I think about this past crazy COVID year with ICHRIE, there is truly an abundance of people, things and actions for which I am grateful. It hasn’t always been easy, it hasn’t been always been without worry and struggle, but the list of “good stuff” is, quite simply, very long indeed. For all you contribute to International CHRIE and our efforts to move the organization forward, I sometimes sit in awe and in gratitude at the simple abundance.