On Christmas Eve a new book I had ordered arrived. It was a good Christmas present for myself.
365 gratefuls, the book, originated from a project by Hailey Bartholomew. In 2008 Hailey had decided to embark on a year long project in which she took a polaroid of a moment every day that she was grateful for, in order to fight depression. It worked.
The idea had arisen after some consultation with a nun, who, during a counselling session, suggested that the secret to happiness was through gratitude and reflection. The year long project proved hugely inspirational for many people as Hailey shared her project via Flickr. The project became a book, a movement and will soon be a documentary too. Brilliant!
It reminds me of something I suggest to many of my patients that are having issues with depression, melancholia, big stress, whatever you want to call it. “Keep a positive diary”, I say. List 3 things everyday. Little things are best – you made a great tasting sandwich, a baby smiled at you on the tram, you looked up as you were walking to work and the sky looked cool, something on the tele made you laugh for an instant.
Of course you can list big things too. Or really quite mundane things. Even if it is the teeny tiniest of things. Or less than 3. Or more. It’s your list. If you like papery stationery things buy a lovely book to record your “things” in. Whatever way you decide will make it work for you. Just do it. Every day.
I decided that I wanted to be grateful everyday and I decided I’d like to do it in a visual way, like Hailey. I chose this app, Collect, to help me do so. There’s lots of journal apps out there but this one looked good to me, and having used it for over a week now, I have to say I like it. Look…. this is the first one I did.
You might think that on Christmas Day I may have been grateful for more, well, ‘important’ things – the love of family, the gift of friends, celebratory food and companionship of special people. Yep, I was grateful for that too. But like I said. Little things. Little things are great. Because not everyday can be Christmas Day.
Another ‘grateful’ thing I do is the ‘best of 2013’ which I share with close friends and especially those that I may not have been in touch with much in the year. I started in 2010, shared it with a few in 2011 and got great feedback, did only a scrappy one in 2012 and compiled my list for 2013 yesterday.
My ‘sue’s best of….’ was inspired by a great article in my favourite magazine, frankie, in which some artists of different types had a portrait type photo displayed alongside a list of 20 things that had occurred in their worlds in 2010. I really really liked it, especially Myf Warhurst’s and Ghostpatrol’s. So I decided to do my own. I hope to do it every year now for EVER. I think it will be a great record.
It’s healthy to be grateful. I appreciate that it’s sometimes incredibly hard to find anything to feel grateful for, but if you dig away there is always something, the smallest of things. The thing about small things is they have a tendency to snowball. The more you are grateful for, the easier it is to see the good and be more grateful and see MORE good. Ad infinitum. Brilliant.
How do you track your gratefulness? What are you grateful for today?
Happy grateful 2014.