The news feed on TV and our social media seem to be filled with disasters on both a large and small scale. We face a constant barrage of awful stories from the most remote corners of the globe. Gloom and doom seems ever present each time we power up a device.
It seems like we are surrounded by bad news everywhere we look. I think to be fair, in the past we had less exposure to news items. There was the daily paper or the 6 o’clock news broadcast. Any truly important newsworthy items could be found in one of those two sources. Now that we have a 24 hour a day 7 days a week news-cycle the content in these feeds need to be constantly added to and updated. Items that, in years before were considered local news now find their way into the worldwide news feed.
It has been shown in the research that anxiety and depression is on the rise amongst all age groups - but particularly in teens. This is a world-wide phenomenon.
It isn’t limited to our street, our neighbourhood or our community.
This worries me as an individual but it worries me so much more as a mother.
You see, our kids live their lives on their mobile devices- laptops, ipads and the ever present mobile phones. Which means that they see this negative narrative constantly.
I read recently that the greatest weapon we have in our safeguarding our mental health is choosing our thoughts wisely. This resonated with me. We can choose to look at and focus on those dark and awful news stories, or we can choose to refocus and shine a light on the good and positive things in our lives.
I know that sounds a really big task but it can be as simple as very small daily or weekly ritual or habit.
For years now I have tried to help my kids with looking for joy and light in their day - every night at dinner we each share our “three good things” about our day. They don’t have to be great achievements or world changing events. They can be as simple as being grateful for a lovely meal cooked for them or sunshine on their face on the way to school or a kind word from a friend. All those tiny little good things add up!
So last year we had a tough year. Not massive big disasters but seemingly many little small scale challenges and hardships that just wore us all down little by little. Wow, were we happy to see the end of 2018!
So over the Christmas break I made a gratitude jar for my desk.
My idea was that each time we have cause to celebrate we pull out one of the little tags inside and write down our good thing and drop it in the jar. Once again, I am not talking Nobel Prize winning type occasions…. as simple as a girls lunch or coffee with lovely friends or getting joy from meeting a stranger’s puppy on the beach, finding some lovely sea glass, watching rosellas on our bird feeder whilst we eat brekky, or one of our fabulous kids coming home from university for the weekend! All good positive events. I bought a fab pen to drop inside and added a bunch of blank cards ready to collect our good moments.
At the end of the year (or hey, before then if we are having a really bad day) we will pull out all the little tags and review our pile of golden sunshine! Re-focus!
My plan is that at the end of the year I will buy a cheap and colourful little notebook and glue the tags in to make a collection of all of our highlights and to clear the jar ready for the year ahead.
I can see this jar is going to bring us much joy in the years to come.
So we know that life is full of challenges and celebrations… moments good and bad.
Life is good not perfect, right!
Our gratitude jar is not about having no hardship or having a perfect "instagrammable" life but simply about choosing to focus on our blessings.
It is only the very beginning of April and already we have a lovely collection of positivity.
Our little gratitude jar has now become a favourite gift for friends and family. The kids drop a few tags in to the jar before we gift it telling the person some of the things they LOVE and are grateful for about the person. There is no greater gift than the gift of being loved and appreciated. Our gratitude jar is enriching not only our own days but the strengthening the relationships we build.