We have been very busy here at the Rural Women’s Network in the lead up to Christmas and have missed sharing our regular stories from rural women with you. So, given Christmas is less than 2 weeks away, I thought it was timely to share this lovely story on ‘Everyday gratitude‘. 2015 has been a year of ups and downs for so many so Bec Jee’s story on ‘everyday gratitude’ is a reminder to us all to love the people around us and focus on the positive-to be grateful for all things big and small-and to give thanks everyday. As we head toward Christmas, Emma and I would like to wish you all a very safe and happy holiday season and we trust that 2016 will have many wonderful things on the horizon for each and everyone of you.
Every Day Gratitude
By Jessica Green, Paterson
As featured in the 62nd issue of The Country Web
I have known Bec Jee for about seven years. She describes herself as ‘multi-passionate’. She’s a graphic designer, sings, writes, sews bags and sells them on Etsy and she recently studied massage! In 2015 one of her biggest passions has been practising gratitude. I’ll let Bec explain why in her own words.
‘I’ve struggled with depression for years now and one of the things depression does is distort your mental view so that everything is blurred and you can’t imagine ever seeing clearly again. The way depression showed up in me was that everything seemed bleak and pointless; all I could focus on was what I didn’t have, what I wasn’t, what I was failing at–but I couldn’t seem to care about it.
‘Our world is geared to make us focus on the lack; everything around us tells us we need to do more, be more, get more. Depression just adds one more layer on top of that.
‘I’m happy to say that these days I am managing my depression reasonably well, with the help of a number of tools–a little like the many lenses in an eye test that help me see things more clearly.
‘That’s not to say that there aren’t dark days, but they don’t extend into dark weeks and months anymore. One of the most helpful “lenses” is practising gratitude.
‘I had been reading about gratitude and hearing talks on the topic, but I think it was listening to Ann Voskamp’s audio book One Thousand Gifts that was my tipping point. Up until then practising gratitude had seemed like such an ephemeral concept. But Voskamp described giving thanks for the tiniest things in her everyday life as well as big things. She delighted in how much giving thanks changed her mindset, how it helped her get through the hardest days, how it helped her to see the beauty and richness in her life. It seemed there was substance to what she was doing and it was making a substantial difference to her life.
‘I was listening to this book during a period when I had a 50 minute drive to work each day, surrounded by giant trucks and aggressive drivers, on one of Sydney’s busiest roads. Being stuck in traffic is not conducive to positive thinking. My thoughts would usually turn to the stresses of work, the sadness induced by a failed relationship, anxiety about the other drivers around me and immovable fatigue. I would arrive at work or get home feeling flat and unmotivated. But on the drive home one day I decided to give this gratitude practice a try.
‘When I asked myself, “What am I grateful for today?” almost instantly, a list of things started scrolling through my head. I’m grateful for my job. I’m grateful for the people I work with. I’m grateful to have a car. I’m grateful to have a home to go to. I’m grateful to that other driver who just smiled and waved at me when I let her in. I’m grateful for the colour streaked across the sky as the sun sets. I’m grateful that the lights are on when I get home. I’m grateful that my cat runs to greet me. I’m grateful that my mum is there to hug me. Without even trying, what had been a grey commute had become full of colour.
‘I was stunned by the simplicity of it. It required no special training, no money, no program. It simply required me using
a different lens to refocus on the good instead of the bad, to help me see things as they really were.’
Bec started to think about how she could incorporate gratitude into her daily life and spread the magic of gratitude to others. She started a Facebook page, posting photos of things she was grateful for. She then created the website http://www.everydaygratitude.net. But not everybody is digital, and so she hit on the idea of a diary–a diary that isn’t just a day planner but asks you that simple question every day: ‘What am I grateful for?’
Bec designed a beautiful week-to-a-spread diary, researched how much it would cost to print a small number and then launched a crowdfunding campaign on the website Pozible. Pozible, and other sites like it, allow you to fundraise for a project by setting a financial goal, and if enough people pledge to support you and you reach the goal, you can go ahead with your project.
Bec launched the 2016 diary in June 2015 so there would be plenty of time to promote the diary, reach the financial goal she needed to print and then print and distribute the diary well before the end of 2015. See how the crowdfunding for Bec’s diary happened here.
I have been lucky enough to be involved in Bec’s diary project. My personal goal since the start of 2015 has been to do more drawing so I decided to post ‘What should I draw today?’ each week on Facebook and then draw and post a picture of the first suggestion. The results have been whimsical: a wombat at a tea party, a Lego man at a party realising he is the only Lego man at the party, a mother and daughter baking a cake to name a few. Bec asked me if she could include some of the illustrations in the diary.
Spreading the word about the 2016 Everyday Gratitude Diary has been wonderfully rewarding. I participated in a Shaping Our Futures Together course run by the Rural Women’s Network earlier this year and have taken up journaling and thinking about gratitude as a result so I can speak personally to the benefits and have recommended it to my colleagues and friends.
So many women I know have responded enthusiastically to Bec’s gratitude diary project because they too can really appreciate how important it is to ‘count your blessings’ and can’t wait to have this simple tool to prompt them. I think 2016 will be a little revolution of gratitude.