If you are looking to feel happier and more present, creating a gratitude journal may just be the practice for you.
We experience many blessings throughout the day that we are often too busy to even notice.
We often miss the seemingly small things, like that warm mug of tea this morning and the way the sun shines in our window to brighten our home.
We can even forget to be thankful for the big things, like having a warm bed to sleep in every night and having a job to support our family.
So many things are taken for granted simply because we forget to slow down and experience them fully.
Gratitude is a choice to be present. It is not just saying “thank you” when you are given a gift, though that is a part of it. Gratitude is viewing everything you have in life as if it is enough.
It is choosing to see that life is happening for you, rather than to you. It is allowing yourself to marinate in the goodness you already have in life instead of always wishing for more.
By focusing on the good things that are happening for us, we are able to cultivate more positive emotions in our lives. If we are able to value what we have, we will never cease to find more value from it.
The simple things can become a never ending river of pleasure just by choosing to be actively grateful for them on a regular basis.
We see what we train ourselves to see.
Have you ever purchased a new car that was previously unfamiliar to you, only to realize after your purchase that these cars are seemingly everywhere? Are there really more of these cars on the road then there were a few days prior to you owning one yourself? No, of course not. You just weren’t paying attention to them before.
Our minds have the wild ability to be very selective in what they notice. We either program ourselves to see what we wish to see, or we allow outside circumstances and people to program our awareness for us.
So, how do we make the shift to live from a grateful place so that we can experience more of these positive emotions?
The answer is in inviting the heart to be a part of the practice.
Yes, you can use your mind to make rational lists of things that are beneficial to you that you should be thankful for all day long. This may even create temporary moments of happiness. What makes this a lasting transformative practice, however, is inviting in an emotional response.
Instead of using the analytical mind, allowing yourself to feel the joy you experience from the things in your life as you are listing them will create the change at the deeper, emotional level.
Using one journal just for your gratitude practice will allow you to reflect easily on your journey.
Reflecting on what you were previously grateful for and how that has changed your life is an important part of the practice of cultivating a deeper awareness around your gratitude.
As with most well-intentioned habits we desire to create, if we don’t plan for them, they have a way of getting pushed onto the back burner every time.
If it’s possible, choose a set time daily to spend ten to thirty minutes with your journaling practice.
Take just a few moments to find some deep breaths and connect with your body before your writing practice to allow you to drop into the present moment.
This can be in list form or however you prefer to write.
Like to write paragraphs? Write paragraphs.
More of a doodler? Doodle your heart away.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way. The right way is whatever works best for you.
Let it feel inspiring and fun.
Pause after each item you list and allow yourself to feel the emotions that arise.
You can even close your eyes and imagine you are experiencing them in that moment.
When writing, you aren’t creating polished pieces to put in books or museums.
Let down your writing hair. There is no pressure here.
Allow yourself to write without worrying about grammar, punctuation, or even if it makes sense.
This is a practice where the benefits are in the process, not the final piece.