THE PROCESS OF GRATITUDE
For two years I kept art journals where I did one painting each day. Because I was creating art, I decided to set a rule that the painting had to be something positive, that I would not paint anything negative. Some days finding something to paint was so easy because our lives are filled with moments that bring us joy. Other days in our lives can feel like one thing after another. Those kinds of days that everyone has can be a bit trickier to find something to be grateful for. On a really challenging day where I had to look very hard to find a thing to be grateful for, my painting might have been just a cup of tea in a pretty mug.
After completing 12 monthly art journals with a total of 356 paintings at the end of the first year two things happened. The first thing was that I actually had become more skilled at drawing and painting. I also had developed the habit of painting every single day. The second thing that happened was very unexpected because the process of finding one thing to be grateful for each day had transformed me into a more positive person. What seemed quite hard to do – to find something to be grateful for each day – had become a way of life. I found that I didn’t want this process to end so I continued my “painting a day” art journal for a second year.
At the end of the second year, I realized that the seeds of gratefulness were firmly planted with deep roots in my heart & soul. I no longer had to search for things to be grateful for in my life. In other words, counting my blessings has become a habit, which has changed my life. I realized just how lucky I was & that I had many things to be grateful for each & every day. My gratefulness frequently reflects my deep connection to nature. Six years later I still find many things to be grateful for each day.
A GRATITUDE GARLAND
Recently I came across an idea to make a Gratitude Garland in an article written by Marney K. Makridakis. Simple paper loops were linked together each day to create a chain of gratitude. The paper loops were made of collage art. I liked the idea of having a garland to hang in a window or above a door to be a visual reminder of the blessings in my life. I cut up a watercolor painting into strips & embellished each strip with silk flowers, butterflies, small photos of the beach, pictures of art supplies, small photos of my pets, miniature prints of my paintings & special paper ephemera. I created the paper loops over the course of a few days. Now each morning or at the end of the day, I write something I am grateful for & attach the loop to my artful & pretty paper loop chain, which is growing day by day. If adding a loop & grateful thought each day doesn’t work for you at first, do it whenever you feel the urge. The important thing is to begin to train yourself to find something to be grateful for all the time. Some of the things you can think of pretty easily to be grateful are might be your family, a job you love, your pets, your home, where you live, etc. I love the idea that this is an art project, but is also a spiritual process to become a happier person. I decorated my paper loops, but you can just cut nice plain paper strips out of colored paper & make a simple Gratitude Garland. I hope this quote inspires you to create your own Gratitude Garland:
“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.”