Gratitude Friday 12-30-22 – Looking Back on Gratitude Fridays
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ― Confucius
I started doing weekly Friday posts Gratitude on October 9th, 2020. My wife Julie had gifted me a web domain and used her skills to set up a site at Billstauffer.net. My first post was not titled but had a general theme on gratitude for simple things. Practicing gratitude has long been a part of my self-care and putting it down on paper seemed like a natural progression as I started to work on my writing skills. Over the next few weeks, I started to come up with themes I would reference in the title and to set the length of single-spaced page of one full page of writing, about 900 words. The first one I did with a title was the Lessons of Lincoln in December 2020 on leadership in difficult times.
Gratitude Friday has been a weekly muse now for 116 weeks and over 100,000 words. I have covered a lot of themes. I have learned a lot, which is part of the exercise. I enjoy researching topics I am thinking about. One of the subjects that tends to run through all threads is addiction recovery. I am a person in recovery. My identity is associated with recovery as living in recovery has pretty much changed how I think and act. There is actually a vein of research on recovery identity and what it means. I found this article published at the Recovery Research Institute about what it means to form a recovery identity. Not everyone who has resolved a substance misuse problem has a recovery identity, or even was addicted to begin with. Complex matters beyond this post.
Gratitude takes effort for me, which is part of why I do this weekly post. I have to work at gratitude. It does not come naturally. Gratitude improves my outlook. As a person in recovery, I cannot afford to be miserable, angry or to let myself slide into negativity for long periods of time. Practicing gratitude is linked to self-preservation.
One of the byproducts of doing this weekly gratitude blog has been that part of me is looking for a topic around gratitude to reflect on pretty much all the time. It is a good thing to have rolling around in my head, particularly considering all the other stuff fermenting up there, often things less pleasant. My Eeyore brain. I suspect it has been good for me in a number of ways, not the least of which is having a “fun” thing to focus effort on regularly.
As the year closes, I have been thinking about the effort it takes to write weekly. I am a busy person. I wonder about it and consider if it is a worthy investment of my time and energy. I generally write it over the week during breaks as I mull about it and need to shift gears from something else I am working on. I have learned by writing in this way how important it can be to set something aside and pick it up to edit or revise after a break. Time can gel thoughts or take things in an entirely new direction. A valuable lesson I have learned about writing is to give things time. A rushed effort looks and feels rushed, written or otherwise. I see examples of this in my own writing, particularly earlier pieces.
I wondered what the world’s longest running blog was. I found the Daily Illuminator, which has been running continuously since November 16, 1994. Nearly 30 years. It focuses on games. What dedication! I confess that some weeks I have sort of coasted. On those weeks, I post things like quotes on a topic. Quotes are like buried gems. We can o access hundreds of years of distilled and compact thoughts from humanities greatest thinkers and writers. I may have put less effort into weeks like that, but it was still fun and I often learned something new.
Daily writing has been helped me do it better. The truth is that regular practice of nearly anything will help one improve their abilities. I found this Time article about how consistent effort over the long term is number one on their list to becoming better at it. There are few other things on the list I have managed to do, such as find mentors and spend time with people with greater mastery over what you are working to improve. Something that Dr. Angela Duckworth calls Grit. Her work on perseverance is well examining.
I have some larger writing projects in the wings, which in and of itself is something I am grateful for. In contemplating keeping gratitude Friday going into and through 2023, my thought is to continue. There are times that people have said really nice things about these posts. It means a great deal to me when they do. Yet ultimately, it is as much about the process as it is the outcome. I don’t really care that this blog will probably never go viral and bring me lots of attention, as noted above it is more of a personal practice than anything else.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy that there are regular readers. I hope that reading my post has made a few days brighter for the handful or readers who regularly read it. The truth is that gratitude is contagious, and it is something we could use more of in our society. So, bring on 2023. Thank you, Julie Miller, for this platform. Thank you, readers, thank you writing mentors near and far in time and place! Grateful for all of you.
What are you grateful for today?