by Amy McGarry
I am fortunate. Better than fortunate. Blessed. Whereas some avid readers are always searching for that “good read”, books present themselves to me. I merely have to peruse the library shelves for a bit, and soon enough, some title will “call out” to me. That’s how I came upon The Gratitude Jar: A Simple Guide to Creating Miracles by Josie Robinson.
Yes, I know that title will be off-putting to some; it was a bit off-putting to me at first. “Creating miracles?” I thought. Get real. But the back of the book had two simple sentences that enticed me. “Change how you think. Transform how you live.” This compelled me to open this book and give it a chance. I am so very grateful I did.
The book begins with a recounting a very dark, low time in the author’s life. Robinson, a housewife and mother of two young boys, was an alcoholic suffering from severe depression. As joyous as becoming a new mother can be, for many women, it’s a catalyst on the path to the deepest of despairs. Robinson sought refuge in a bottle, which of course only made matters worse. Her family also suffered from serious economic woes and could hardly make ends meet each month.
When Robinson finally hit rock bottom, she got down on her knees and prayed. The very next day, she came into contact with a spiritual guide. The guide suggested she find a jar or some kind of receptacle for holding small pieces of paper. Every day, Robinson should write down one thing in her life for which she was grateful. It could be something big, or something as small as having air to breathe. But she must come up with one thing for which to be thankful every single day. After writing this down on a small piece of paper, she was instructed to put the paper into the jar. This was called the Gratitude Jar.
At the same time, Robinson had managed to stop drinking. She realized she desperately needed to reconnect with her four-year old son, who’d been robbed of a fully present mother by alcoholism. Her guide suggested she include her son in a nightly ritual of gratitude by talking together about how they were blessed and putting the pieces of paper in the jar together. The goal was to complete this ritual every night for 30 days.
Early in the morning after their first night entry into the Gratitude Jar, Robinson was shocked as her son came running into his mom’s room exclaiming he was grateful for his blanket. He told her how fun the ritual was last night and asked if they could do it again.
As night after night they added their blessings into the Gratitude Jar, Robinson noticed a subtle change in how she went through her day. She was so focused on coming up with something for the Gratitude Jar, she found herself noticing countless blessings in her everyday life. Her whole attitude had shifted, as she realized how very blessed she was indeed. Instead of despair and depression, she began to feel joyous. She felt content. Her friends noticed a change. They told her she glowed.
Robinson found that practicing gratitude was “rewiring her brain and rewiring her heart.” She considered this a miracle. But more miracles were to come. Serendipitously, a perfect job presented itself to Robinson, one that would solve all their money woes. Was this a result of the Gratitude Jar? Robinson believes so.
Having a young daughter myself, while reading the Gratitude Jar, I was struck by the impact the ritual of nightly gratitude had on the author’s son. While I never created an actual Gratitude Jar, I began to tell my daughter what I was thankful for every night before bed, and asked her to tell me the same. I like to think this practice teaches her a new way of thinking, a positive approach to life. I know it helps us feel closer.
I also began to include “counting my blessings” in my daily journaling.
Whether or not you believe in miracles, I can attest that everything in my life is better when I practice daily gratitude. The world is more beautiful, more fun, more joyous, and I’m easily more peaceful and more content. That’s what I learned from a little green book called The Gratitude Jar.
Amy McGarry grew up in Spokane Valley, Washington. After a 20 year hiatus, she moved back to Spokane Valley where she lives with her husband, daughter and two cats. She teaches English as a Second Language at Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute, the American branch of Mukogawa Women’s University in Japan. I am Farang is her first book and available on Amazon.com.