An experiment: The Gratitude Journal
Today, after a long hiatus, I’m resuming posting to my blog with what I hope will be the first in a long series: a daily (or at least near-daily) Gratitude Journal. It’s an old concept, and one I’ve practiced offline before, but I didn’t stick with it.
I’m inspired by several things. A couple of weeks ago, I learned about the death of Kevin Choate Sensei, an Aikido instructor with whom I have trained several times, and who seemed far too young to pass away from a sudden illness. Then, like the rest of the nation, I was shocked and dismayed by the school shootings in Newtown, CT just last week. Then yesterday, I heard about the Westboro Baptist Church’s plan to picket the funerals of children killed in the shooting, which prompted me, along with (as of the time of this post) 175,000 other Americans to sign an online petition asking the Obama Administration to legally recognize the WBC as a hate group.
After sharing this petition with my Facebook friends, one of them asked a relevant and difficult-to-answer question: What is the petition going to accomplish?
The answer, for me, is that signing the petition is a way to express my outrage at the WBC’s actions, and to raise public awareness of the WBC’s actions. If we can make the letters “WBC” elicit the same visceral response as “KKK”, then I think we’ve taken a step in the right direction.
However, I’m fundamentally dissatisfied with that response. It’s a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough. At its heart, it’s slacktivism; the idea that pushing a couple of buttons on a website is going to make a lasting change.
But there’s another principle I’ve learned through my aikido training: I can’t change someone else, I can only change myself.
So, rather than simply pushing buttons and going on with my day, I’m going to set aside a bit of time each day to meditate on something for which I am grateful. My three goals for this new experiment are:
- To write something, other than a work email, every day.
- To find some quiet in my day.
- To effect a positive change in myself.
I’m self-aware enough to know that this may go nowhere in the long run, but for at least a few weeks, I’m going to make a concerted effort to make at least one post per day about something for which I am grateful that day.
Today, I’m grateful that I am alive, and that my wife, my children and my family and friends are all safe from violence.
I wish the parents of 20 children in Newtown, CT could say the same thing.