Counting her blessings seemed easy enough. Keeping track of them was another matter entirely.
This reader wrote the book on giving thanks.
One morning, driving down a curvy country road at close to the speed limit, I swerved to avoid a small turtle crossing my path. I was late for a dentist appointment in town, so I kept driving. But I was overcome with worry that another car might hit it, so I circled back, put on my hazard lights and ran into the road to rescue it.
When I picked the turtle up, I was surprised to see it sported a lovely red and yellow pattern that I later learned is typical of the eastern painted turtle.
Hazards still flashing, I unearthed an old gas receipt from the glove compartment and scribbled “colorful turtles” so I’d remember how thrilled I was by the rescue. As the turtle waddled safely into the grass, I was filled with satisfaction.
Another morning, shortly after I had given into family pressure and purchased my first cellphone, I heard what I thought was the trilling ring tone my daughter Briana had selected for me. I ran through the house looking for my purse.
“Hello?” I said breathlessly into the phone. “Hello?”
Nobody was there, and the ringing continued. I realized the chirping sound was not coming from the phone but from some birds outside my kitchen window. I laughed and made a note on an old grocery list so I wouldn’t forget to tell Briana: “Birds that sound like ring tones.”
I’d deliberately begun jotting down these happy thoughts one Sunday after telling a friend I sometimes felt overwhelmed by my responsibilities. I worried about many aspects of my life, from making ends meet to parenting teenagers to caring for elderly parents. Sometimes, I confided, I got so wound up that I couldn’t sleep, which made me worry more.
She told me her simple trick: When times get tough, she stays in the present and counts her blessings. She doesn’t worry about things that may or may not happen in the future. At first her advice sounded simplistic, and I was skeptical that counting my blessings would stop the worry train from rumbling through my head. But I decided to give her idea a try.
Pretty soon there were little scraps of paper everywhere containing my hastily written notes about things that make me happy. “Rushing rivers” in my jacket pocket after a trip to the mountains. “Love songs” on top of the radio. “My goofy dogs” beside the sack of dog food in my pantry. Baby ducks, friends who listen to me complain and glorious sunsets got notes, too.
Although reading them made me happy, the notes were creating a bit of a mess. So I got myself organized enough to buy a spiral notebook and matching pen, then I collected the scraps of paper and transferred the messages into the notebook. I call it my blessings book, and now every time something nice happens, I write it down there.
Today, instead of worrying, I pull out the book and read some entries. Here are some of the latest: My lovely daughter, who is now a young adult. My cozy house with an almost-paid-off mortgage. My little rescue dog Suki, who makes cute noises in her sleep and keeps me company wherever I go.
It turns out my friend was right. If you spend your time thinking about things that make you happy, you’ll have less time to worry. There will always be challenges, but I’m confident that I can work my way through them. And the best part is, when I do, I’ll have even more blessings to jot down in my book.
Linda Currey Post’s blessings book was born of a friend’s advice. It has given her a positive outlet for life’s worries and a way to track the things she’s grateful for—including her dog Suki.