reaffirming the gratitude jar

I have mentioned for years now that I have a gratitude jar. I had read about it a few years ago and it was just a simple thing to make us as human beings focus on the positives and the good things in our lives.

Sometimes when a bunch of negative things happen all in a row, it’s hard to stay positive. I find it hard to stay positive because I do not think by my very nature I am naturally positive. I have to work at it.

I think positive for me has been learned behavior, and it’s something I have to relearn and reaffirm again and again. Hopefully, someday it will be second nature to me.

A quote I found on another blogger’s post about gratitude jars is something I would like to share:

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. ~Lao Tzu

I think that’s a pretty powerful statement. In the instant gratification social media-centric world in which we live, this quote which is pretty damn old is still current, isn’t it?

Lao Tzu was known as the father of Taoism. Mind you, many modern writers feel this is NOT a real person at all, but a legendary figure whose writings were actually created by many different people. And yes I got off on a tangent, so back to the gratitude jar.

Having a gratitude jar is a simple reminder that life is not all bad or all difficult. Having a gratitude jar helps you focus on the things that are wonderful in your life. Even every day little things are wonderful.

Having a gratitude jar helps us reaffirm the many positives in our life. Life can be hard. I am not trying to be Pollyanna and say everything is always wonderful with fuzzy caterpillars that turn into magical butterflies. I am more of a realist than that.

I just think we live in a completely crazy world at times and a simple thing like a gratitude jar is a great way to keep us honest and keep us thankful and keep us grateful.

Here is an old post from girls on the run on how to make a gratitude jar with your children (click on the hyperlink).

Some people empty their gratitude jars on an annual basis and re-read everything at the end of the old year or beginning of the new year. I don’t do that. I intermittently check out what I have written in the past and add a new note to the jar. I don’t add notes every day. Sometimes I go quite a while without adding anything. This morning I added two notes.

I will close with something I learned as a small child while attending Saint Peter’s School in Philadelphia. We used to learn songs seasonally for lack of a better description, and in the fall around harvest time or what would’ve been harvest time since we were at school in the middle of Society Hill, we used to sing a song called Simple Gifts. It was a Shaker song / hymn written by a Shaker Elder named Joseph Brackett in the 1840s.

Even Yo Yo Ma has recorded a version of it. It’s a classic in my opinion and it’s very beautiful. And I am not a particularly religious person although I have my faith.

The song was largely unknown outside of Shaker communities until the composer Aaron Copland used its melody for the score of Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring (Shakers once worshipped on Holy Mount, in the Appalachians), first performed in 1944.

Mr. Copland also reportedly used “Simple Gifts” a second time in his first set of “Old American Songs for voice and piano”, which was later orchestrated

Here are the lyrics and thanks for stopping by:

Simple Gifts Lyrics

Joseph Brackett (1797 – 1882)

(Shaker dancing song)

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

  ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,

  To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

  Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

simple gifts…from the garden

I love fall gifts from the garden. Like the flowers I cut this morning in advance of the rain which is coming. Days like this make me think of the old Shaker song “Simple Gifts”. You will find the lyrics below the photo

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Simple Gifts Lyrics

Joseph Brackett (1797- 1882)
Shaker song

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say,

‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of “me”,
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real.

The Earth is our mother and the fullness thereof,
Her streets, her slums, as well as stars above.
Salvation is here where we laugh, where we cry,
Where we seek and love, where we live and die.

When true liberty is found,
By fear and by hate we will no more be bound.
In love and in light we will find our new birth
And in peace and freedom, redeem the Earth.

‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be fair,
‘Tis a gift to wake and breathe the morning air.
And each day we walk on the path that we choose,
‘Tis a gift we pray we never shall lose.