My Cup Overflows: Discovering the Discipline of Gratitude

Anna Jacob   |   May 17, 2023 

Many summers ago as a young bride,  I was angry and disheartened and wallowing in self-pity. Marriage wasn't the rosy future that I had dreamt of with sun-kissed beaches and picture-perfect holidays and a home that would be on a magazine centre spread.

My husband had given up a decent pay cheque to study further. We were living in a tiny little house. Money was tight. My commute to work was a gruelling three hours each day. My list of complaints was a mile long.

But a small quiet voice reminded me to thank God for the many blessings in my life. Blessings! I sneered in my head. I was too tired and too cynical to even think beyond the mundane.

But one morning, I had had enough of being bogged down in that mire of self-pity. It wasn't getting me anywhere. 

During my quiet time, I decided to jot down at least one thing I was grateful for. And just taking a moment to pause and be thankful, started changing my perspective.

Despite having a hectic study schedule, my husband did the many thankless jobs I failed to notice. He stood by me like a rock. He was (and is) patience personified and the friend who loves at all times..the list is long!

I was grateful for the colleague at work who always brought an extra portion of her homemade delicacies. For the support, my parents were and continue to be. For God's provision and favour upon my brother. For the sister-in-love who fitted in so seamlessly into the family.

I was thankful for our clan of cousins and our weekly get-togethers. For the friend I found in the lovely girl newly married into the family and how that bond has deepened over the years. For the friends who blessed our lives and opened their homes and hearts to us. For the friends who loved us the way we are and urged us on toward greater things.

Soon enough, it became an integral part of my morning routine to log in an event or person or incident I counted as a blessing.

Then the blessing of being parents blurred out pretty much everything else. And the Gratitude Journal was forgotten and gathered dust under all the other paraphernalia of childhood.

When some sense of order prevailed, we then began this as a regular tradition during our family prayer. We learnt to appreciate each other, to vocalise and share our appreciation for a lovely meal, a kind word that changed the mood, a thoughtful gesture...the list goes on. More often than not, the children reminded us of a blessing we may have overlooked and it served as a powerful reminder to be grateful.

Almost as soon as our children could string sentences together, we got them little notepads to jot down their thankfulness. Punctuated with anecdotes and punctured with spelling mistakes, my children laboriously logged in their entries. They are a joy to browse through.

Their delight at the bags of goodies and bars of chocolates that the hubby brought back from travels, pizza from a favourite restaurant, movie nights, cuddle times, holidays and long drives, playtime, being able to go out cycling, unbridled joy about time spend with their grandparents, trips with cousins, the joy of raiding the aunt's craft cupboard, the surprises the uncle managed to spring on them. My eyes fill with tears as I browse through their books. One recent entry logged in with a child’s wisdom read: ‘I am happy that I am happy.’

Then the pandemic hit us all and life as we knew it underwent a total change. Everything shut down. While uncertainty and dismay and fear were being magnified in everyone's life, I was inspired to take this exercise online.

So I began the Gratitude Challenge with a bunch of dear friends. All we had to do was post a single sentence highlighting the blessing we experienced during the day on WhatsApp.

I believe it has drawn us closer as we celebrated the gift of family, generosity of friends, long chats and Zoom sessions, the kindness of strangers, helpful hubbies, blooming gardens, staycations, emotional and physical healing, new recipes and projects, crafts, home delivery of groceries, home-cooked meals, rested afternoon naps, being reunited with family, of binge-watch sessions...the list is endless.

What began as a 30-day experiment is over three years and counting. It has since then mushroomed and divested into several subgroups with almost every friend extending this within his/her sphere of influence.

The enormity of the change was highlighted when my daughter began the exercise with her cousin. Teenagers who grumbled about the state of affairs and their caged in life were suddenly thankful for food on the table, for being able to stay connected with friends, and were appreciative of their siblings, for the joy of life, and how hard their parents worked to provide for them.

There are dark clouds that cast a shadow, there is heart-breaking news that leaves us gasping, and there are tears and pain that doesn't stop.

But yet, I hope the ripple effect of thankfulness continues and that gratitude becomes contagious and becomes a force to reckon with.

I would encourage you today to start your own Gratitude Journal. Start small if you are feeling overwhelmed, but start. Start with things that make your heart smile. The majesty of the rising sun. Food on the table. A baby's gurgle. The love of family. A single flower that blooms bravely. A phone call from a long-lost friend.

I promise you, it won't become a chore, but something that you look forward to. And it will make a difference.

We then realise the glass was never half full nor half has always been overflowing with His goodness!


Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

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Anna Jacob

Anna is a stay-at-home mum and wife who doubles up as a teacher, baker and finder of all things lost. She loves her family, historical fiction, home decor, baking, journaling and vintage finds among other things. She is constantly writing articles in her head and occasionally, some of them actually get written. Anna is grateful to live in the answers to her whispered prayers and believes she is blessed beyond belief!

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8 comments on “My Cup Overflows: Discovering the Discipline of Gratitude”

  1. Beautiful blog, Anna. Your articles are always blissful to read. Glad to be one among your friends to have been introduced to the journal of gratitude.

  2. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your heart. Grateful to be part of your journey.

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