I continuously observe people being very ungrateful and miserable in their lives. It is tough, I fully understand. Life can be miserable and it can be unfair. I understand that too. Good people don’t _____ <– fill in the blank to your needs. The reality though is that we all have ups and downs, life does give us lemons and life does throw us curve balls. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.
As I love reminding myself that I’m a #spiritjunkie and that I am growing each day right beside you guys, I read daily morning pages. Some days those pages are simply from my current book (right now I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert) and other days I simply search the web for articles. It’s healthy to grow and it’s healthy to reflect. This morning though, while chatting with a great friend, I noticed again how bogged down we get with life & how easily we forget to be grateful for the things we do have.
“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot” ~Hausa Proverb
For myself, embracing a gratitude journal seemed a very obvious way to start, as I love writing. I started this years ago on occasion just within my normal daily writing practice, but around Christmas time I decided it was time to dedicate one journal simply to gratitude. It’s lovely really, when my mood is bogged down, it’s much simpler to look back on the great things. Read a few days of entries and instantly be reminded of the great things in life! When I sat down this morning, I was going to type out a brand new list of ways to start a gratitude journal or maybe on how to be more grateful, but then I remembered, why start a whole new list when Authors like Louise Jensen over at TinyBuddah have done this so beautifully! I’d rather share her lovely insights with my amazing readers than rewording something that has been written countless times, when I can’t possibly word this much better.
There is joy everywhere, but it can be overshadowed by pain if you allow it.
When I have a bad day now, I read back over my journal and I remember that life has so much to offer. I still such a lot to be grateful for. Yes, I am one of the lucky ones. I have a life and I love it.
If you want to start a gratitude journal I recommend the following:
1. Don’t just go through motions. Make a decision to be consciously more grateful.
Don’t reluctantly journal because you think you should. Feel what you write. Believe it.
2. Don’t set yourself a minimum number of things to write per day.
This is a toughie. Many sites will recommend five or so things per day. In my experience, there are days I have less, and that’s perfectly okay. On balance, there are days I can fill a page. Don’t put yourself under pressure to stick to the same amount each day. Be flexible and don’t take the joy away by being too regimented.
3. Don’t wait for the right time.
I try to integrate this into my bedtime routine, but if I have a joyful experience, I often write it down straight away. This reinforces the positivity felt and ensures I don’t forget anything.
4. Elaborating on why you are grateful allows you to really explore your feelings.
If, like me, you intend on flicking back through your journal, make it clear why you are grateful for the items you add. For example: For the first entry, I put “my children.” On day two, I wrote, “my children for putting on a sock puppet show after school and making me laugh.” That triggers so many memories each time I read it and always makes me smile.
5. Focus on people rather than things.
As much as I love my iPod, it can never give me the same warm, fuzzy, loved feeling my partner instills by making me a surprise breakfast in bed.
6. Don’t rush; savor every word.
Don’t see this as another chore to get through. The fact that you can make a list of things that make you feel grateful should make you feel, umm, well, grateful!
7. Include surprises.
Unexpected events often elicit a greater emotional response. They’re also wonderful to look back on when you feel that life is mundane and the same old routine all the time.
8. Keep the negative out.
If you want to keep a diary to record how you feel, this can be constructive, but leave your gratitude journal as a purely positive only exercise.
9. Mix it up. Don’t put same thing every day.
Expand your awareness. The more you do this, the more you’ll start to really appreciate what a gift life is. The world is beautiful. Learn to really experience it.
10. Be creative.
Who says a gratitude journal has to be full of lists? Mine contains everything from concert tickets to photos and restaurant receipts. Have some fun with it.
11. Give it a fair chance.
Some experts say it takes, on average, twenty-one days for a new habit to form. Don’t give up or dismiss it as not working before then. Commit to just three weeks and then see how you feel. What have you got to lose?
Love, Pixie xo
If you have not had a chance to read my story please do so! It has encouraged me to practice mindfulness and gratitude in a much more consistent way! www.gofundme.com/financial-pains-due-to-illness