Welcomed and recorded

Our Robins prepare for spring, 2005

Our Robins prepare for spring, 2005

“Each thought that is welcomed and recorded is a nest egg, by the side of which more will be laid”Henry David Thoreau

For me, writing is an effective way to train my thinking.  I find that most people give more thought to what they write than to what they say, and this may be why some are more fond of talking than of writing.  Others are naturally silent, neither speaking nor writing much other than what is necessary to get through the day.  But either way, Thoreau’s analogy is an apt description of what happens when we take the time to record the best of our thoughts.

A number of authors have advised keeping a gratitude journal, wherein one records specific items that inspire feelings of thankfulness each day.  I have done this at times, and do find that it is helpful, particularly during stress or grief.  No matter how bad things get, we can always list reasons to be grateful.  These notes might mention anything from a sunny day, to a reliable appliance, to a loving and supportive friend who visits in person or by email.  It’s especially helpful to note what one tends to take for granted, such as electricity or hot and cold running water; conveniences we don’t notice until a power failure takes them away temporarily.

In recording happy details, we capture and preserve fleeting glimpses of the everyday joys that enrich our lives.  Years later, reading back over gratitude journals, I discover forgotten blessings and moments of grace that would have been lost to me if I had not recorded them.

Even if you do not usually write much, try keeping a record of welcome thoughts.  As Thoreau suggests, one thought will lead to another, and in time will produce beautiful songs and the freedom to take wing and fly.

17 Comments

  1. I actually did a 30 day gratitude challenge where I sent a card (or more!) a day to someone to thank them for what they did for me, explaining how special they are to me and I shared the love! It was so amazing for me and for them! Imagine getting an unexpected card in the mail! It was so much fun to do and so easy! I find that there are angels among us who need appreciation.

    • What a wonderful idea! I have aspired to do something similar, but always seemed to get de-railed after a few days. But I think I’ll try it again. We are so accustomed to getting bills and junk mail, it’s delightful to find a personal note. In doing something like that, we help ourselves and help others too! Thanks so much for visiting here and for your comment.

  2. Bobby Harris

    I try to be a non-complainer because complaining shows ingratitude and pulls you down to an unhappy place. Your post encouraged me to think of what I am grateful for today. One of the big things–we are going to the Cub Scouts’ Blue and Gold dinner where our grandson, Ned, the one with autism, is “crossing over” to the Boy Scouts. I am truely grateful for people who are willing to work with children like Ned to see that they have a normal childhood. There seems to be many of them here in Indy.
    Hope this day puts another “egg” in your “nest”.

    • Thanks Bobby, hearing about Ned and his troop was another “egg” for me! Years ago Matt was in the Webelos Boy Scouts and it was a wonderful experience for him. Although not too many people realize it, the Boy Scouts were doing inclusion long before the school systems and everybody else got on the bandwagon. They even published guidebooks for leaders, explaining how to adapt scouting so that boys with disabilities could be included. For that and for many other reasons, I will always love and respect the BSA. Thanks for visiting here — it’s always nice to hear from you.

  3. That sounds like such a good idea. I really need to try something like that. It’s easy to feel down and disappointed. I love the photograph of the eggs. Gave me a good feeling.

    • Thank you Katie, I’m so glad you like the photo! I found that the gratitude journal really increased my awareness of all the things that were going right for us. I recently found an old one and really enjoyed reading through it; lots of stuff I had forgotten. Little joys, sweet things my children or husband did, etc. I think of myself as the type of person who remembers everything, but reading through old baby books and journals shows me how much I have forgotten over the years. Thanks for visiting here and for your comment.

  4. Judy Wilson Holley

    Well put/written — and a wonderful idea. Kinda like looking back over old photo albums, but are pictures of your thoughts at a particular point in time . . . .

    • Judy, that’s a good parallel. I never thought of my words as a picture of my thoughts, but that’s exactly what they are. Also, indirectly, the words paint a picture of who we are at a given time, and how we have changed over the years. It’s easy to look at photos and see how much our appearance has changed, but often our thoughts and even our personality changes somewhat as we get older. I got your wonderful card yesterday; thanks so much. It means a great deal to me.

  5. Sheila

    Julia, I have considered sending cards throghout the year, a few at a time, to family and frieds that compile my Christmas card list. I,also,have received cards that were surprising but so touching. Are “aspired”and “considered” similar? I’m smiling! Hope all is well in your world. The photo certainly matches the quote. Once again, I’ve enjoyed. Sheila

    • Thanks, Sheila! I think of “considered” as being a bit different from “aspired.” We might consider something and then decide about it one way or another; either we do it or we don’t. When I say “aspired” I’m thinking of the proverbial good intentions (exemplified by my craft room full of stuff I haven’t yet gotten around to using, fabric I have had for years, photos not in albums, etc.) :-). In other words, when I aspire to something, it’s made it past the “consider” stage but is now on the very long, long, long list of “stuff I plan to do someday.” Maybe I should aspire to convert some of my aspirations to concrete plans! I appreciate your visits here and your comments.

  6. Bobby Harris

    I think my aspirations are now exceeding my appointed time. I have bins of yarn, tubs of fabric for quilts, charts and thread for cross stitch, stacks of books to read. I turn 70 this summer and I don’t think I will finish all these projects finished but I still “aspire” to more. Maybe I should re”consider”. 🙂 Love and prayers.

    • Bobby, I totally identify! Recently I told Megan (my daughter-in-law) that I had so much backlogged reading material (books, magazines, even newspapers) that if I did nothing but read until the day I die, and live to be 100, I would never get through it all. She said “at least you realize that! :-)” Years ago I read where Marilyn Vos Savant said she loved having too many things to do because that meant she always had plenty to choose from! Another author, I don’t remember who, said “just accept that you will die with your inbox full.” I don’t suppose that’s such a bad thing overall. Having so many interests surely makes life more fun!

  7. Hi Julia,
    I loved this post. I find that keeping a gratitude journal, especially during difficult times, is such a spirits lifter! I have loved reading back over mine and smiling over things I have forgotten.
    And I hope I always have a backlog of reading material! 🙂
    Thanks,
    Jessica

    • Thank you Jessica. I probably need to get back to writing in the gratitude journal. I need to build a backlog myself of how many blessings have come our way the past few months amid all the harsh and discouraging things that are happening. Thanks for visiting here!

  8. I’ve been writing in a ‘non-diary’ diary since Christmas. It’s pre-written with questions to answer and interesting quotes and quirky surveys. It’s undated so I can write once a week or everyday. No rules, no worry. I also keep a Poetry Journal that includes special cards and mail from friends. Between that, my day timer, blogging and Facebook that’s about all I can squeeze in right now. But I so enjoyed the conversation here today.

    • Wow, it sounds as if you are doing much more daily writing than most people I know! I like the undated journals but the one I now use sometimes has more than a year between entries! I also keep a journal where I just record the title/author of books I have read; looking back over the years there are many I forgot about. I try also to keep a small date book where I record the names of people I’ve sent notes or thank-yous by regular mail; I often can’t remember whether I’ve sent someone a note even a week or two later. I tell myself this is because I write so many notes in my head before putting them on paper, but I think it’s mostly due to getting older! So it’s handy to have reassurance sometimes when I think “Oh dear, did I forget to send ___ a note?” Thanks for being here!

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