Have you ever kept a gratitude journal?
I have been filling out one for a while. It was a step in the right direction. I felt like it was a good thing to be doing. But you know, I still didn’t feel much more grateful! Or happier. Or more positive. Or any of the benefits that you are supposed to get from gratitude.
I decided I needed a whole new way to tackle the issue – and I hit upon a breakthrough that has upgraded my life!
I started reading around the subject of gratitude to see what improvements I could make. There seems to be a lot of debate over whether you should do it daily, or not. Personally I am fairly sporadic at the best of times. If I don’t at least TRY for daily gratitude then you can guarantee it won’t ever get done!
What really helped me was my little portable gratitude journal. These are small and easy to carry in my purse. You can add to them easily wherever you are and whatever the day throws at you.
And fill your house with inspiring gratitude posters. I have them everywhere. Everywhere you look you are reminded to feel grateful – it is a great way to stay in the right mindset. Imagine waking up and having a reminder to be grateful as the first thing you see.
But even this still felt a bit hit and miss. Sure I was grateful. I was thankful for having a roof over my head. For hot showers. For coffee in the morning. It helped me to notice the good things already in my life. But it didn’t really feel like it was improving my life a whole lot.
I think when most of us sit down to do this type of exercise we tend to focus on the general. We might find the occasional ‘specific’ incident that we can be thankful for (‘my son carried in the shopping for me’) but it is hard to think of those things. So we drop back to fishing around for more vague and unspecific things. It easier, faster, we are done, finished and can get on with the rest of our day.
Experience Gratitude in a whole new way
I listen to a lot of audiobooks. Unexpectedly in ‘The Compound Effect’, Darren Hardy talked about gratitude. But in a very specific way. He said that he writes one thing every day that he is grateful for about his partner. That by doing this he became more in-tune with his partner – noticing the little things and seeing her in a much more positive light. And he credits a successful marriage to this one small thing.
Hey, this sounded good to me! But it got me thinking. Who is it that we really need to have a good relationship with. Who goes with you wherever you go? Who do you really need to feel good about.
Yourself of course!
So I have upgraded my daily gratitude practice. This fresh approach has helped me to experience gratitude in a whole new way! And I think it will do the same for you.
Here’s how it looks now. I write down 3 things I am thankful for – but now I have a structure.
- Be thankful for something about a person you connected with the day before. I try to notice something that a family member or friend does or says that I can admire about them, or be grateful for. Try to look for personality traits or kind acts. ‘I am really thankful that Caroline is such an inspiring person. I am really thankful that Jon noticed I was feeling grumpy and kept out of the way. I am really thankful that Ella made dinner for us all’.
- Be thankful for a specific thing that happened yesterday. All of us can find one thing. I find I spend the day looking for it so I don’t have to make my brain hurt thinking of something the next day! I see this as my ‘gift from the universe’. In what way did the universe surprise you and make you grateful? What unexpected gift did you receive?
- This one is all about YOU! You are going to love this one because it feels sooo good 🙂 You know, we really don’t take enough time to appreciate ourselves. We need to be our biggest cheerleader. This is your chance to every day notice something great about yourself. Start with ‘I appreciate myself because’ or ‘I am thankful that I am’ and just bring on those great star qualities you have. Don’t hold back – if you are going to praise yourself then why not go overboard? I especially like this one when I feel I went out of my way to do something – and NO-ONE else noticed!! You have that too? Write yourself a pat on the back – ‘I appreciate myself because I took the extra time to make up a healthy packed lunch for the kids’. I am thankful that I kept my cool with Gillian in the office’.
I am loving my gratitude journal with this new focused way of being thankful. It makes me feel terrific – and helps me to really appreciate the people around me. And that, my friends, is how gratitude becomes life changing.
Do you have a gratitude routine that works for you? Play along and leave me a comment.
Love the posters? You can find them here.