Image for Gratitude Journal and Joy

At our age, there's plenty to get grouchy about -- creaky knees and achy joints to name a few. So to help keep things on the brighter side, I work out regularly in our fitness center and I stay active on resident committees and community activities. But one of the best ways I've found to lift my spirits is to keep a "gratitude journal." It's amazing how this simple habit works so well and in so many ways.

I have been keeping a “gratitude journal” for probably over 10 years. At the end of most days, I write down one or two things for which I am grateful. Some days it is little things like “the smell of coffee and the time to sit and read the newspaper” or "a casual evening with a glass of wine.” I also remember having friends over from Memphis and watching the eclipse – fun but a little eerie in that the dog started acting strangely and, in the mountains, it got very dark.

Good Times

Some days it may be the wonderful trip to Sanibel when Mother was celebrating her 90th birthday and we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary and all of the children, grandchildren etc. were there to enjoy the beach and each other.  We must have had 20 in all.

Also, on Chuck’s 85th birthday, our oldest son, Chuck Jr. took his dad on a fishing trip where he caught 18 fish including a 12-lb. striped bass.

Another exciting time is when our daughter Jackie started her own company at 53 called PH. It stands for Private Holdings -- the merger of boxers and briefs. Her products are now in 152 stores in 25 states, and she uses her dad in several ads on her website!

Tougher Times

There have been some sad times, as well.  Our youngest child, Joy, was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago and has gone through chemo and radiation, but, always with a positive attitude. What an inspiration she was to us.  She now has a full head of beautiful hair, which is darker than the original. We learned a lot from her courage and attitude.

I also like to consider my gratitude journal to be a keepsake that can be passed down to our children, so they can see the various events and happenings of our lives, laugh about them and then pass them along to their children. (We have four children and, in addition to daughters-in-law and sons-in-law, we have six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.)

The practice of keeping a gratitude list not only serves to boost your spirits today; your gratitude lists are likely to bring joy to your family members in the years ahead. 

My favorite "mantra" is: "Nothing new can come into your life unless you are grateful for what you have." If you haven't tried writing a gratitude journal yet, I highly recommend it. It's rewarding and fun to do. 

Joyce and Chuck Jensen moved to Lenbrook in 2010 and have stayed active serving on committees and dancing nearly every Thursday evening. A varsity letter athlete all through school, Chuck won 2nd place in a dance contest when they first moved to the community. A native of Memphis, Joyce earned her bachelor's after having four children and received her master's at the same graduation ceremony as her son. Earning her doctorate in 1982, she taught at Rhodes College and the graduate school at the University of Memphis. Joyce also was a teacher, supervisor of teachers, and principal of Richland Elementary in Memphis.