How a gratitude practice led to journaling and so much more

Sunday, January 8, 2017

I read about the benefits of daily gratitude practise. It appealed to me and I started to make it part of my daily life. It takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so I set a challenge for myself to create a new habit of gratitude.

I sat down to write and chuckled to myself when I couldn’t think of anything, quickly realising this task could be more difficult than I originally thought.

My first three entries into my journal

  • I am grateful for my dogs – they’re always happy to see me ☺
  • I am grateful for my bed – I’m not sleeping on the ground ☺
  • I am grateful for the roof over my head – I’m not sleeping out in the cold ☺

Practising gratitude on a daily basis made me more aware of what was around me and how I felt. This evolved and I found deeper meaning in daily situations when I chose to look deeper. I started to notice people and circumstances in my life with a different perspective.

Jon Bon Jovi captured the concept beautifully with this quote, “Miracles happen every day, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.”

Some days it was easy to find things to write and other days it was challenging. I became aware that I wasn’t always in touch with my emotions and it was easier to numb out than to feel. You know those days when burning the toast makes you want to cry? That day my entry was, “I am grateful that I got through this day. Tomorrow will be better.”

Each night before bed I take time to remember the day, the good and the bad. I always find something to appreciate.

One evening I sat down to write after a particularly rough day. Nothing came to mind. So instead, I just wrote how I felt. I wasn’t thinking about what to write, I was feeling.

As the ink flowed onto the paper so did my anger, my frustration, my fears, my resentment, my loneliness, my pain, my tears. My mind switched off and I allowed myself the freedom to express myself without censoring or explaining how I felt. When my hand finally stopped moving, I felt empty. The verbal vomit on the paper made space for something better.

I wrote, “I am grateful for my tears; I feel so much lighter.”

On day 21 of my challenge a friend sent me an email about a different 31-day gratitude journal challenge. Day one was easy, but day two of this challenge was a different story.
Day two’s heading read, ‘Gratitude for your strengths’. A scene of sitting in an interview and being asked to list my strengths and weaknesses came to mind. Realising I needed to ponder this thought a while longer, I headed off to the kitchen to make some coffee.

Staring blankly as the water poured into the cup, the strong aroma of black coffee hit my nostrils. A personal strength suddenly popped into my head. “Coffee is good for something” I thought as I laughed at myself. I became aware that I giggle a lot at my own silliness and ideas.

This quote from comes to mind.“That moment when you talk to yourself and you start smiling like an idiot because you’re just so hilarious.”

Scientists say we have 50 000 - 80 000 thoughts per day. How on earth did they get to that number? What constitutes a thought? How many thoughts was that? I just got side-tracked by a thought. A chuckle snort escaped from my throat. Smiling goofily at myself, I took a sip of coffee as I walked back to my desk.

I wrote down my first strength. “I am funny ☺” Laughing at yourself is a valuable skill, it helps you to not take life too seriously. During the day I added more and more to the list. It felt good to acknowledge my own strengths realising I did not need the approval of others to feel worthy.

As I continued my daily gratitude, I became more positive and appreciative of the abundance that I have in my life. We all suffer with negative thoughts from time to time, but these are just emotions that need to be acknowledged. If you acknowledge how you feel and let it go, then life is not so shitty. Life moves in cycles and the lesson is to acknowledge those shitty days and move on.

Eckhart Tolle said it best, “Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation of all abundance.”

I encourage you to start journaling or begin to simply express gratitude. Gratitude is important in most cultures, but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally to everyone.
We need to practise gratitude to overcome directing energy towards entitlement, resentment, jealousy and other negative emotions. What’s more, highly grateful people tend to have more times that feel good! Their emotional state is more often positive and they enjoy greater satisfaction with life.

Research tells us that people who have high levels of gratitude are also more likely to:

  • Be empathic
  • Be helpful
  • Be forgiving to others
  • Experience better health
  • Have a more positive outlook

You have a choice in which energetic vibration you want to live in. Choose wisely.

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