Learning How to Be Grateful: One Old Paystub at a Time

Today didn’t have the greatest beginnings. The pants I planned on wearing had a rip in them but I had to wear them anyway and hope nobody noticed because no other pairs were clean. Also, I haven’t purchased a new item of clothing in over two years and I am running low on options. Shiva spent forty-two minutes of our forty-five minute walk sniffing a single clump of snow so I didn’t get the exercise that usually helps me face the day. I was worried about a friend who had to face a pretty scary job interview and my leftover spaghetti lunch spilled out of the container and into my tote bag.

Gripe, gripe, gripe, gripe.

As it is the American Thanksgiving and as I missed out on writing my annual Canadian Thanksgiving post due to indolence, I wanted to take some time today to share my overdue gratitude. Apparently, though, all I can think of right now are the ways things didn’t go right, instead of the countless ways they did.

I mean, my cat and my dog actually shared the same chair! This should thrill me for at least a month!

I mean, my cat and my dog actually shared the same chair! This should thrill me for at least a month!

Which, really, is a general problem of the human brain and the purpose of this day in the first place. Why do we seem to ignore the millions of things that go well, in favour of fixating on the few things that go less well? If there is anyone out there who knows the answer to this, please provide me with the link to your blog yesterday.

Each year I tell myself I am going to cultivate a daily practice of gratitude. Each year I do nothing. I get stuck in the medium, pondering the best way to go about expressing my thankfulness as opposed to just expressing it. Missing the point seems to be a habit with me.

Last January I found this great idea on Pinterest – as one does – that suggested creating a gratitude jar. The image iself was beautiful. A lovely glass vessel decorated with gleaming ribbon and filled with little white notes neatly clipped. It seemed so simple and yet so special. The initial concept was that at the end of year, or in the midst of a particularly rough day, I would pull out the hand-written thoughts and remember how much good there is in the world. It was a brilliant idea, a genuis idea! I instantly fell in love.

But I didn’t budge an inch. Instead I obsessed with finding the right jar and then determined I would never create anything as pretty as what I saw online, deciding to just give up completely. It was too much work. I’ll do it next year. Maybe.

Who can compete with this?

Who can compete with this?


So here I am. December is a sleep or two away and I have done nothing but bitch for eleven months. Again.

It’s ridiculous because the thing is, I have a million things for which I am grateful. The point of the jar isn’t to make something that looks appealing in a photograph. The point is to dedicate a bit of time to feeling positive about my life. It doesn’t matter if it goes in a glass decanter covered in unicorns and sparkles, it only matters if I sit down to acknowledge how lucky I am. There doesn’t even need to be a jar! I can use a shoebox or an old pot or a grocery bag!

Because as much as I complain I am grateful. I am grateful I even have all three of the aforementioned things around to use! The box means I have something to protect my feet, the pot means I have a way to cook dinner, and the bag means I have enough money to purchase food. I am grateful I have a computer that still works enough for me to type this. I am grateful I have a blanket on my lap and a healthy dog beside me and a furnace that supplies heat. These are all amazing things! Stupendous things! Things that should make me dance every morning on my way to the shower!

Well, maybe not dance. With my lack of coordination that early in the morning I am likely to fall down the stairs and throw my whole gratitude thing down with me.

So even though it is only November 28th and not January 1st, even though I don’t have a special jar, or special shiny paper or even a pen that doesn’t leak, I am going to start this thing today. I may have to write my notes on tissues or the back of old pay stubs but hey, I should be grateful I even have a pay stub on which to write! I may not remember to do it every day or even every week but it’s not about ticking off a box on my to-do list. It isn’t even about perfection. It’s about doing something for myself that may one day change my perspective and may even lead to doing some nice things for others.

It begins now.


8 thoughts on “Learning How to Be Grateful: One Old Paystub at a Time

  1. Kristine,
    No need for striving for perfection….as humans we will never achieve such a lofty goal but take heart in the fact that things happen and they wouldn’t happen if we were not around to have them happen…
    Just be grateful and live with your heart and all the other “stuff” will eventually fall into place…
    Peace and Love and Thankfulness to you and yours this Thanksgiving eve,


  2. I am thankful that you and the PH found each other so now you are part of my life – I am thankful that Shiva is getting better – I am thankful for waking up each morning in a country where anything is possible – and I am thankful that I have many things to be thankful for


  3. Yeah, I’m feeling you on the beautiful gratitude jar. If I had to wait to craft a pretty object to collect my thanks, I’d die old and alone with frown lines etched into my face like ley lines of despair.

    Thanks for the encouragement to be grateful. It’s one of the most helpful disciplines I’ve ever taken up. And I still need to be reminded to keep it going all the time.

    When I’m feeling particularly awful, I write or count off on my fingers 15 things I’m thankful for. On a bad day, it doesn’t necessarily make me feel better. But it stops me from grousing just long enough to make my list. 🙂


  4. Kristine, there’s a little iPhone app called “Gratitude Journal” that helps me. I think it’s either free or 99 cents. I don’t write in it every day, either, but it does help me keep track of all my blessings.


  5. It’s tough, man. In the throes of ripped pants and spilled spaghetti and dog barf and late buses and lost keys… it’s so easy to forget. I’m not one to craft a jar for these sorts of things either, but I’ve been making an effort to write five things I’m grateful for on a little sticky note (almost) every day. It’s really hard some days (like today I wrote things like tea and not tripping over dog toys all morning), but I’m seeing more things to be grateful for now that I’m looking for them.


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