I’d like to say New Year’s Eve was stellar. It wasn’t. A tummy bug hit on Friday.
Looking to be more positive in 2017, I’m grateful Spark and I had it at the same time; otherwise, you feel like a sitting duck. We didn’t have to wait for the next shoe to drop.
There’s comfort in that, and in feeling better when it passes. Too often we take our good health for granted, and so many other things.
Having time inside gave me a chance to catch up on my newspapers, the Weekend Missourian and Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Both had articles on self-improvement. The Post piece focused on manners and suggested simply treating others as we’d like to be treated. Sounds easy, but it’s hard, isn’t it?
Other Helpful Suggestions
The article in The Missourian was excerpted from “Silver Linings” a book by Leaha Mattinson. She suggests that when a negative thought enters your head you should mark it with a big “X” and move on, kind of like swiping a screen, I thought. Though I’m not advocating more “screen” time on phones, iPads and computers, Mattinson’s tip offers a helpful visual.
Sometimes, though, more concrete reminders are needed on our road to positivity. While I was turning this week’s column around in my head, I had a phone conversation with our daughter Rebecca. She has to be one of the most grateful people I know, and is always looking at ways to improve herself.
Since Christmas, I’ve heard more than once how she’s using the gifts she received from us. While written notes are lovely, a therapist friend once said that telling another how much you appreciate their gift is totally appropriate, in addition to, or in place of, a formal thank-you note. I’m old school, however, and one of my resolutions is not to let January pass before I get my thank-yous in the mail.
Noting Nice Things
While talking to Rebecca, she mentioned a project I’m going to put into practice, one she picked up from author Elizabeth Gilbert, who’s written a number of self-help books, but is perhaps best known for her memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love.”
The idea isn’t a new one, but rather one Gilbert came up with some years ago and shared with her Facebook followers. She suggested getting a jar and jotting down on a slip of paper the most positive thing that happened to you on each day of the year. At the end of the year, all the slips of paper are read, offering folks a reminder of the good things that have happened in their lives.
It was interesting to read some of the ways Gilbert’s followers personalized this project — decorated their jars, added a movie ticket for a show they enjoyed or a restaurant meal they relished. It was uplifting to read about whole families getting involved, something Rebecca is going to try with her kiddos.
Off and Running
So I’ve got my jar — nothing fancy, just an old clear-glass, overlarge vase decorated with a sunny yellow flower that one of our granddaughters left at our house. The jar is situated in my office, in plain view so I don’t forget about it and can focus on the positive when the grays get me down.
Of course I have a negative thought about the jar, about resolutions in general. What if my good intentions fall by the wayside? In that regard, I was encouraged by another woman’s Facebook post. She admitted having only 40 positive notes in her 2016 jar. They were better than nothing, she added, and got her fired up to be more diligent in completing the daily project in the coming year.
I’d love to have some of you join me — send photos of your jar, or clue me in if this is something you’ve done in the past, firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember this is a one-day-at-a-time venture. We’ll do the best that we can, and that will be good enough. Happy New Year!