Keeping a gratitude journal can transform your life.
Do you think it's possible to shift a negative outlook on life to a positive one? Do you ever notice how negative people attract negativity and positive people naturally attract good into their lives?
I recently spent a morning reading through ten years of my journals in chronological order. What a trip! I watched myself grow up on those pages, saw my own path to positivity. What stood out was the first journal. In it I complained non-stop, and expressed great dissatisfaction and frustration with my life. There was no mention of gratitude.
Bad things will always happen, but before I started a gratitude practice, I failed to see the lessons in the bad things. I was always quick to place blame on someone or something else for my unhappiness. What I complained about in that first journal, the Universe sent back my way over and over again... the more I complained, the more life sucked.
Eventually I learned about gratitude and started writing pages with this header: "I am so happy and grateful because". Then I would list anything and everything I could think of. Spoiler alert: Magic ensued!
Since discovering the power of gratitude, I actively craft my ideal life with support from my journal practice, and I think you can too.
When you feel gratitude for the little things, life gets sweeter and sweeter.
Identify and write down what you're grateful for, it will lift your mood and remind you of what makes your life pretty darn good. Gratitude teaches you to be thankful for what you already have, which will in turn attract more of the good stuff.
When you feel you have little, gratitude reminds you that you have a quite a bit. When you number your reasons to be grateful, you realize you could continue adding to the list for every day for the rest of your life. I once added up my gratitude lists and counted over 600 reasons I was grateful. How could I not feel brighter after a adding up all of those entries?
Being grateful will help you help others.
When you treat yourself well and commit to a gratitude practice, you can be of more service to others. Maybe your new found sense of gratitude will encourage a co-worker to spread some kindness out into the world. You could hold doors open for strangers, or let someone in front of you during the morning commute. You might smile while staring out the bus window and completely change a passerby's day.
By centering in gratitude you stop being a victim of your life, and choose a lighter path instead.
The real trick is feeling grateful even when life is challenging.
If you start a gratitude journal, it can be easy to think of what you're grateful for when life is all unicorns and rainbows. (disclaimer: I still love rainbows and unicorns, just sayin)
What about when you're on your lunch break and spill a plate of salsa drenched nachos all over your freshly laundered jeans? Or when your phone is at 7% battery life and you realize you've left your charger at home. These little things add up. Negativity sweeps over you, and you can't help but think life is sh*t.
Once you finally go home and take your nacho pants off or plug your phone into an outlet, you may still be simmering and fed up with your crappy day. A quick scan of your pages and pages of gratitude lists can bring you back down to earth, you had a bad day... but it's not all bad. Once this shift in thinking takes place, it will even start to spread to the really tough stuff in your life.
I realized my complete mindset shift the first time I got legit sick in my adult life. I was in horrible pain all day and night for months, I couldn't eat (and I LOVE to eat and cook) and I had no energy. I was scared and full of fear, but I kept writing my gratitude lists. Because even in that brutal time of my life, my cat kept cuddling with me, my husband, family and close friends provided support, and the sun still shone through my window every morning. I never ran out of things to be grateful for.
Once I was on the mend, I actively sought out the lessons that sickness was meant to teach me, and I felt some gratitude for them too. Choose to learn from life's challenges instead of having a "why me" attitude, and you can be stronger and get through life's challenges more skillfully than ever.
So! Perhaps I've convinced you of the magical powers of a written daily gratitude practice. Want to know exactly how to start today? Follow my super simple 2-step process:
1. Choose a journal.
Dollar store notebook, fancy hard covered journal from the specialty book store, it's all good! Consider the size and whether or not you would enjoy a lined or blank page. Small journals travel well but can mean a tight squeeze if you have loose, large penmanship. Larger journals take longer to fill and may be heavy if you ever want to travel with them, but they give you more space to unleash your creativity.
Whatever you do, don't stress over choosing a journal- just buy one...
2. Then write in it.
Keep your journal somewhere you won't forget about it! I always keep mine out at the breakfast table and then it goes back on my pillow to greet me at night. If I'm feeling rushed, I will still try my darnedest to write even ONE thing I am grateful for each day. Before bed I'll read over old entries to feel grounded and proud of my path. Make it easy on yourself by always keeping a pen with your journal.
Like all good things on your path to a happier, more mindful and less stressed out you, don't put pressure on yourself to perform to a certain level or think it's not good enough. Spending one minute OR LESS a day writing a line about gratitude will deeply impact your life. If you find more time to write, super! If you don't, ain't no thang!
So, wanna practice? Leave a comment below and let me know something you're grateful for...