Gratitude jar

It’s 7:36 a.m. on New Year’s Eve in Pokhara, Nepal.  I am writing this post from the comfort of a king bed at the Temple Tree Resort and Spa while listening to birds chirping outside.  This town nestled at the foothills of the Annapurna mountain range is just starting to wake up, but I have been up for a few hours already, letting my mind wander from past to present to future.

New Year’s Eve is a day when I take stock of my life.  Where I have been.  Where I am.  Where I aspire to be.  Sure, this happens on other days throughout the year — but something about the formal transition into a new calendar year puts a heavier emphasis on the ritual.

I splurged on this stylish hotel because I wanted to be “comfortable” as I reflected on 2013 and mused on 2014.  The staff here speak fluent English.  There is a 24-hour bar overlooking a beautiful pool and garden.  The restaurant serves up Nutella crepes, a delicacy I haven’t found elsewhere in Nepal.  Rooms here go for more than $100 per night.  By contrast, my last Pokhara hotel cost $6 per night — and even that was considered expensive by some friends I’ve met on the road.

Spoiled, that I am.  At least until the money starts running out.  Tonight, anyhow, I am guaranteed a quiet, comfy bed after the New Year’s revelry while the rest of my travel friends return to their $3-per-night hotels, sleeping on rock-hard beds surrounded by still-drunk twenty-somethings.  Not exactly the environment in which I want to transition into 2014.

So here I am, perched amidst fluffy hotel pillows, reflecting and forecasting.  But it’s not going so well.  A general laziness is punctuated by this problem: My sabbatical journey has a mantra of “Stay in the present, Erica.”  The New Year’s  ritual of reminiscing on the past and looking ahead to the future runs counter to living in the moment.

Perhaps I have gotten so good at staying present, that I cannot think past or future?  (Just kidding.)

I do have a handful of goals for 2014, some that can be tangibly measured, some that are contingent on serendipity of the universe and some that are still half-baked.  But the only one that I am prepared to share, and thus be accountable for, is starting a “Gratitude Jar.”

It’s an idea that I spotted on a few Facebook feeds.  The concept is simple: Each night before going to bed, I will write down something that I experienced for which I am grateful and tuck that memory into a jar.  This will help reinforce the positive in my life, on a daily basis, at a critical time of day.  Going to bed with gratitude is so much healthier than anger, fear, doubt and worry.  Those are things that sometimes — not all of the time — coddle me to sleep.  Plus, at the end of 2014, I will have a bouquet of beautiful memories to recount before the onset of 2015.  This will help further reinforce the positive aspects of my life, versus the coulda-woulda-shoulda-wanta.

So there it is in writing.  My first “New Year’s Resolution” for 2014.  It starts tonight.






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