Friday, February 26th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
                                                      —Robert Brault  
We are experiencing some difficult, very challenging days. A fast-spreading disease keeps us from leading “normal” lives. This pandemic has hit us where it hurts the most: in isolation, lacking human touch. Many of us are feeling anxious and fearful. With these things in mind, I thought I might change our focus by re-introducing the Blessing Jar. Since this is the start of a new year, this seems like the perfect time to start one. The Blessing Jar helps shift our focus from negative to more positive things. Keeping the Blessing Jar helps us to reconnect to friends and loved ones, realize how fortunate we are, and feel gratitude.

To create a Blessing Jar, get a large jar, and every time you believe you have been blessed,  write it on a slip of paper and place it in the jar. As you begin this process, you may notice something amazing happens. It’s as if your eyes start to open in a new way, and you begin seeing blessings you missed before.
Keep placing the blessings slips in the jar all year, and then on New Year’s Eve, pull out the slips and read them. This can be an extraordinary experience! You will see how an entire year has been filled with good things, even with COVID-19 going on.

Karen added one more step to the blessings. She suggested that when we find someone who has been a part of the blessing, we call him or her and let them know.  That was a wonderful experience for us and those we called. These people had no idea they had been such an important part of our lives.

This year we have added another new project focused on appreciating and recognizing others. We kept all the Christmas cards we received and placed them in a basket. We pull out one card on Sunday evening and those who sent the card become this week’s prayer partners. Every morning we pray for their well-being. A letter is mailed to the prayer partner, letting them know that we are remembering them in our prayers that week.

What’s in your jar?

With so much dissension and negativity in our nation and community, it is healthier to find ways to be positive and thankful. Instead of focusing on the bad, this is an excellent way to focus on and encourage the good. It is also a good way to keep from taking for granted those people and things that are blessings. With  so many of us feeling anxious and fearful, it is good to remind ourselves of a study in 2002 by Robert Emmons. It showed that people who regularly were more grateful recovered more quickly from suffering and dramatic events. Seeing and acknowledging our blessings changes how we experience and respond to life.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700