I received a wonderful gift last year; a gratitude journal. I had experimented with different gratitude practices before (more about keeping a gratitude jar below) , but had never kept a journal specifically for gratitude. It’s revolutionalised my mindful practice and made me a lot more of a positive person, but why?
Well the simple reason is that I realise as I write, almost every night, I have so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for so, so many things; my family, my pets, my friends, being alive, being healthy, having freedom, feeling peace, getting through a difficult day, reading a great book, having a nap, getting flowers, spending an afternoon with my Mum, having a stress free day at work. The list has been endless. I’ve also found as it’s an A5 journal and I can fit about 5 to 6 grateful things on each page that sometimes I’ve struggled to fill the page. At this point I remember that every day I can get out of bed, I can breathe, I am relatively healthy and I am so, so grateful for this. So then I can fill my page. I also have a side of a page for intentions. So on the left side of my A5 booklet I write things I am grateful for that day. On the right side I write things I am grateful for that are not yet in existence. For example; thank you for a long, healthy life. Thank you for my Mum being pain free, thank you for a stress free job, thank you for losing weight healthily etc. etc. These things do not exist yet, but by thinking about them I can start to envisage them. For those that believe in the law of attraction, I am creating the energy to bring them to me. For those that don’t, I am writing a bit of a wish list for things I would like to happen.
I have flicked back through my journal a few times, and a have noticed a few things.
- If I’m having a hard time; whether at work, or with my mental health, or I’m tired or busy I haven’t always completed a day. I don’t beat myself up about this, however I do try to get back to writing in my journal.
- I can always fill a whole page with grateful jottings
- Experiences feature a lot – I am often grateful for days spent with my family, or my pets, or being out in nature
- ‘Stuff’ hardly ever features. I’ve not written about being grateful for a new dress, or shoes, or something new I’ve purchased
- All my intentions are about how I want to feel, or about being healthy, or about my family being healthy and well. I have no intentions for big houses or cars, or wardrobes of clothes. My intentions are about feeling well, and calm, and being debt free, and healthy.
This in itself was a great exercise. If I doubted my priorities in life before, here they all are looking at me in black and white. I value people, and I value experiences, and being out there. I value freedom from debt, and poor health. I know that even if it’s a week or two before I write again I am always going to keep a gratitude journal. It grounds me and reminds me of what’s important. What’s more the practice of gratitude brings us into the present. It reminds us of what we are grateful for TODAY. It reminds us of the positive things we have in life. Even if life seems like it’s pretty pants for you right now, if you try really hard you could probably come up with one or two things you’re grateful for? Your kids? Your grandkids? Seeing the sun rise, a great job well done, a spouse, being fit and healthy, your pets, meditating, going on holiday, and like me if you can’t think of many one day, the fact that hopefully you can breathe independently, and you can think and feel are pretty amazing things to be grateful for.
Try it, and let me know what you think. The journal I received was one specifically for gratitude, but any journal will do. I think one that looks beautiful and inspires you, with a pen that writes beautifully are key, because a gratitude journal can be a work of art as well as something that awakens you to the things in life that you’re grateful for.
If you don’t fancy a whole journal, you can get started like I did with a gratitude jar. Each time you feel grateful (or if you’re not feeling too grateful, remind yourself every day to just think once about it), pop the thing you’re grateful for onto a piece of paper, and pop it into the jar. For example, I had a great chat with friends today. I am so lucky to have them. Keep dropping them in your jar. When you’re feeling low, or sad, or particularly ungrateful, tip the jar upside down and read them. Hopefully it will remind you of all the things you’ve had opportunity to be grateful for recently.
What about you? What are you grateful for?