Over the past couple of days I’ve been off of work to work on a personal project. Part of that focus has included going through my blog posts from the past few years in search of a couple of specifics. Sure, I could’ve used he search feature but that wouldn’t have been nearly as enlightening or successful in my search. What this meant was that I spent well over six hours combing through my most recent 1,000+ posts.
Over the past three and a half years there have been so many adventures – oh my goodness! Seeing all of the work trips, vacations, and road trips was pretty wild. There were a steady stream of events with the boys as they grew from Cub Scouts to Scouts, from elementary and middle to middle and high schoolers. So much time outdoors, on the water, playing games, up in the workshop creating, time with friends, and having fun. There were many pics of sunsets, sunrises, bluffs, storms, snow, lightning, and the moon. Inspirational moments which had come and gone. Memorable moments that I’d kind of forgotten or didn’t realize were as recent as they were.
What really caught my attention was the wonderful reminder of how important and integral gratitude is to my overall joy. There were clearly days when I was struggling or frustrated, but with the distance of time the wounds had healed and I’ve become stronger as a result. Focusing on gratitude forced me to find the upside in those difficult times and to ask myself two of my favorite questions:
- How can I be grateful for this adversity?
- What can I learn from this?
In reading post after post it was wild to see how this habit is finally starting to form and shape my mental process. In connecting the dots afterwards I can see why my brain gravitated to Stoicism as it has – there were so many of those types of thoughts brewing before I even knew it was a thing. As I’ve continued to read, research, and focus on it I can see those tendencies becoming stronger.
Throughout those 1,000+ posts I became even more grateful for this journaling practice that I stumbled into by accident. In almost each of the posts I could remember the days more clearly thanks to the post priming my memory. Due to it being focused on gratitude each post, even on a bad day, reminded me that it is up to me to remember a specific day as good or bad. In choosing gratitude for my daily “journal entry” my history is more optimistic. Trust me, I remember much of the crappy stuff that had happened on those days as well, but thanks to the filter of gratitude my first impression of the day was positive. Even if it were tough I was still able to grow from it.
What I also found interesting were the recurring themes that mirror my values and the types of things in life I value most. Time with family. Focus on growth and being better. Faith. Thought followed by action. Friendship. Keeping a growth mindset. Gratitude. The beauty of nature. Physical activity. The importance of stillness. Learning from past mistakes. Dreaming big. Living while I am alive. So many of the same themes, over and over and over.
While it was a different project that led me to dive into my old blogs I couldn’t help but temporarily lose sight of my goal as I drifted into reading an old blog that was off topic. In a very tedious task I was able to find significant amounts of joy and the feeling of growth and progress. To have my mind flooded with so many memories was an awesome experience that I will not soon forget.
If you already journal, be sure to look back once in a while. What an amazing feeling to see where you’ve come from and how you’ve grown. If you don’t do any journaling I’d highly recommend it. The treasures I’ve found through it are mind blowing. To be able to go back over five years and have highlights to remind me of the day have kept my memory strong. By focusing on what I’m grateful for I’ve taught myself to look for more of what brings me joy (not happiness, but joy specifically).