Gratitude can be a very powerful force to change a person’s attitude from negative to positive. My mother knew this. When I would complain about something that I thought I was lacking, she would advise me to count my blessings. When my own children were little, I told them the same thing. I thought that if they focused on how much God had done for them, they would be happier than if they complained about the things they were missing. It turns out that a recent study proved that people who make a daily list of things they are grateful for are less stressed, less depressed, exercise more and make greater progress toward their goals than those who make a list of unpleasant things or than those who record random daily happenings, pleasant or unpleasant.
When I read about the results of this study, I was reminded of Rob, who was a Teen Staff at Family Camp when my children were younger. Rob was a very happy and very spiritual teen who made a big impact on our family. One of Rob’s daily practices was to write in a Gratitude Journal. He carried a small notebook with him and it was filled with notations about things and people for which he was grateful. I remember that once, when Sam told Rob something meaningful, Rob told Sam that he was going to put his name in his Gratitude Journal. I will never forget the huge smile on Sam’s face when he told us that he had made it into Rob’s Gratitude Journal.
Following Rob’s lead, our children began Gratitude Journals of their own. They recorded small and big things for which they were grateful — flowers, smiles, kind words, friends, pancakes, fluffy clouds. They counted their blessings each day for a long time. As I think about this today, I count Rob and his example of gratitude among my own blessings.