Keeping a Gratitude Journal -
Methods and Benefits
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Using a gratitude journal is a wonderful way to help us pay attention to what is good in our lives. Even in the most difficult circumstances, there is always much to be thankful for, but the trick is focusing our attention on these blessings.
Keeping a gratitude journal is a simple exercise. There are different ways that you can incorporate this exercise into your life and reap the benefits. One way is to take some time each evening, before you go to bed to list as many things as you can that you are thankful for. Another way is to keep a small notebook with you everywhere you go, and write down things throughout the day as you notice them.
Personally I find that the second method works well. It is certainly fine to be on the lookout throughout the day for things to be thankful for, and then to list them at the end of the day, but writing them down on the spot reinforces the actual experience of gratitude at that moment, and frees your mind from becoming cluttered with ‘things to remember.’ You can then take out your gratitude journal at the end of the day, and read it before you go to sleep. This allows you to relive the positive feelings and to strengthen them. You can then get ready to go into the world of dreams focused on what is good in your life, rather than worrying about what is wrong, as so many of us can tend to do.
When writing your gratitude journal, be creative. While it is certainly helpful to remind ourselves every day that we are grateful for the gift of life and a roof over our heads, one of the ways that a gratitude journal can really enhance our feelings of positivity is to get us thinking beyond the way we usually think. As you continue to incorporate this exercise into your life, you will begin to find more and more things to be grateful for. As well as the things that are obvious blessings, we can start to notice more and more ‘blessings in disguise.’
One of my life coaching clients recently added an interesting item to her gratitude journal. One of the issues that she is working on through coaching is that, like many of us, sometimes she becomes distracted by the demands of two very young children, and forgets things. The other day, she had bundled the kids in the car with all the necessary stuff that going anywhere with small children requires. In all the activity, she forgot to unzip one side of the car port, and therefore damaged it while driving out. While this may not sound like anything to be grateful for, this event none-the-less became an entry into my client’s gratitude journal.
Was she grateful for damaging her car port? Of course not! What she was grateful for was the fact that, rather than flying off the handle or beating herself up as she might have done previously, she was able to calmly handle the situation by using some techniques that she and I had been working on. And, she adds, she is grateful for duct tape! Now this is uplifting stuff! Finding the learning and growth in challenges, rather than allowing seemingly negative events to drag us down.
Human beings have some natural tendencies that are not helpful to living a joyful and fulfilled life. The first is the tendency to take things for granted, and to fail to appreciate what we have in our lives. Have you ever wanted something really badly, and then when you obtained that thing, quickly lost interest in it? If you are like most of the human population, the answer is probably ‘yes.’ Rather than allowing this to be the pattern of our lives, we can work at truly enjoying and appreciating all the good things that we have. Take time to really use and enjoy the things you have created in your life. Play with them, take good care of them, and thank yourself for being able to bring them into your life.
Another tendency is to focus on what’s wrong, rather than what’s right in a situation or our lives in general. Using a gratitude journal can help us to see that for every ‘bad’ thing that happens, we can usually find ten good things if we look. Looking for these ten good things can help to stop us from dwelling on, obsessing and worrying about that one thing that we don’t like.
A gratitude journal can enhance our lives in a couple of ways. Firstly, it can help us to enjoy what is good in our lives, rather than taking those things for granted, or focusing on the negatives. This in turn gives us more to feel grateful about, as we experience more joy and fulfillment in the lives that we are already living.
Secondly, by truly focusing on what we feel good about in our lives, we attract more and more of this goodness to us. The fact that what you focus on tends to increase is known as the Law of Attraction. By choosing to pay attention to the blessings in your life, you not only get to fully enjoy them, but become more magnetic to even more blessings.
If you want to get more joy and fulfillment from what you already have, and open yourself up to even more good things in your life, try using a gratitude journal. Give it a month, and see what changes you can notice in your life. I would love to hear about your experiences. If you are already making gratitude a habit in your life, it would be wonderful to hear from you too! Please use the form on this page to contact me.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share these thoughts, and in doing so, experiencing them even more fully.
Blessings and joy,
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