Say Hello

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.

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