How did you spend September 21? Did you rush around in the harried fashion common to most of us? Or did you revel in the blessings of the day? Did you snap at your significant other and hope the kids would keep playing their video games and stay out of your hair? Or did you embrace, figuratively and physically, those you love and share a home with? Did you look up from your phone, computer, and life long enough to blink? Or did you curse the shortness of your day and the length of the ever-present to-do list?
Did you know that September 21 was World Gratitude Day? Its origin was a 1965 Thanksgiving dinner where attendees discussed the need for a globally unifying holiday and pledged to begin celebrating it in their home countries the following September. In 1977 the United Nations Meditation Group declared it a global holiday. It has been described as a ?holiday for all peoples, a day of meditation for all religions, a day of celebration for all humanity, united by knowledge of simultaneously shared emotion, a day when triumph of the spirit can make a world community.?
Despite its importance and long history, I didn’t know of its existence until I saw it mentioned in a magazine. Now, as with all knowledge, I can never ?un-know? it again.
So the question then becomes what to do with the information. I could try yet again to begin the disciplined practice of writing in a gratitude journal every evening before bed. Oprah advocated that habit years ago, and It’s served her well. It might also help sleep come easier if I ended my day with a warm glow rather than a recitation of what didn’t happen that should have. A confession: I just found the last such journal and am ashamed to admit that my last entry is January 6, 2008. It’s now on my night table waiting for tonight’s new beginning!
For those who want a more public way to shout their gratitude from the rooftops or who care what celebrities have to say about the subject, visit The Gratitude List. ?Gratitude is the memory of the heart,? according to author Todd Aaron. The instructions are simple: ?It begins like this. I am grateful for . . .?
It’s fine to journal a daily gratitude list, but It’s equally important to share our gratitude with those to whom we’re grateful. I’m sure each of us have regretted not doing so with someone who is now gone. ?If only I’d said . . .? we wail. don’t let another day pass without saying what needs to be said to whomever needs to hear it, whether It’s a stranger or the love of our lives. And we needn’t wait for September 21 to roll around again, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.