Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, the holiday of finding gratitude, I thought I would share a simple practice that I have found extremely helpful and grounding. Keeping a daily gratitude journal fosters appreciation in our lives and helps us operate at a higher level. This doesn’t mean that nothing ever goes wrong or is disappointing, but when we find the good in our daily lives we are more positive and happy.
Now, this practice doesn’t have to be complicated or fancy. It can really be whatever comes to mind.
I like to journal once I am settled and cozy in bed. It helps me relax and sleep better as the last thing I am thinking of is what good things have happened and how blessed I truly am.
I admit, when I was first starting out journaling was kind of hard and it felt like more of an obligation. Give yourself time to get into a groove. I promise it does get easier and you will get into a flow.
Gratitude brings about more gratitude. Once you begin to find things you love and are happy for, it gets easier. You find more to appreciate. The little things in each day start to stand out and you begin to acknowledge them and are grateful that they are part of your day.
If you have never done a gratitude journal, commit to writing at least 3 things from the day.
I start my statements with: I am so happy and grateful for…..
Or you could start with:
I am so thankful for…
I feel blessed today because…
Remember, sometimes it is the little things and sometimes it is the big things. There is no right or wrong with gratitude.
We need to be thankful for it all. Big, small, awesome, & frustrating.
To get you thinking about the types of things we truly can be thankful for, I will give you some ideas.
- A smile from a cashier at the grocery store
- Getting to work out
- Talking to a friend
- Someone doing something nice for you, or you being able to do something nice for someone else
- Learning from a difficult situation.
I started this practice by simply writing 3 things a day. Honestly, it was like that for a while…just 3 things a day.
Then the gratitude started to grow, and I could write and write…..regularly filling up a whole page.
When you are overflowing with gratitude your perspective shifts and you find so much joy and happiness in the everyday.
Let me illustrate how it all unfolded the other day.
I had hoped for a quiet and productive day, but then at 11AM I got the email that school was closing for the first snowfall. I quickly finished up some work before braving the slippery roads. Luckily we are just a few minutes from school.
Although beautiful, the snow was turning my well planned day upside down. Bye bye, lunch bunch bootcamp class…. see you later, blog writing and social media crafting.
Dodging the snowflakes, two happy and smiling faces jumped into the car proceeded by…
“Can we build a snowman? How much snow do we have?”
“Remember, don’t eat the yellow or brown snow.”
“Can we go outside as soon as we get home?”
Finally, after eating lunch and a little bit of tv they emerged from the basement with the big bin of snow clothes. Before I could even get monkey #2’s snow pants on, monkey #1 was out the door….the deck door…and began to make snow angels on the deck.
Making snow angels, throwing snow balls, and rolling down the snow covered hill brought them into a state of pure joy, utter happiness.
And guess what? It was quiet inside for me, when they were outside playing! Win, Win!
Just when the kids were about to come back inside, my older brother pulled in. He had been at a meeting nearby and was going to wait out the roads getting cleared up…and of course he would then stay for dinner. He always does and has a hearty appetite! Now I needed to figure out what to make for dinner. Fortunately, I had plenty of food in the house and was able to get creative and make a yummy meal for everyone.
When the kids came back inside, they hung up their gear on every possible handle and had the entryway covered with coats, scarves, mittens, boots, and snow pants.
Excerpt from my nightly gratitude journal:
I am so happy and grateful for seeing the delight on the kids faces today, everyone was so joyful.
I am so happy and grateful to have had the time to cook a delicious dinner and share it with family. It was so cozy and perfect on a snowy day.
I am so happy and grateful for the unexpected quiet time in the house when the kids were playing outside.
The next day school had a 2 hour delay. The kids of course were still up by 6:30. Fortunately I was able to get an extra hour of sleep before the monkeys were hungry and asking for breakfast.
We all got ready, and were out the door for the day. After the pickup I brought monkey #1 to a sleepover, and then #2 and I went to my parents for dinner.
We finally get back to our house at 8PM and the front door seems to be broken. The key worked and the door unlocked, but I could not push the handle down with my thumb to release the door.
Luckily, I have the most amazing neighbors. I brought monkey #2 next door and tried to figure out what to do, or an alternative way to get into the house. I wasn’t even sure if a locksmith could do anything from the outside as it appeared like the whole handle would need to be removed and the screws are all on the inside. Hmmm…..
….Jump the decks and hope the sliding door is open?
….Break the storm door on the basement door?
….Have the police bust the front door down?
My awesome neighbor then said “Let me look at the door.” I said, “Sure.” and his wife said, “Are you sure you want him to do that? He breaks things.”
A few minutes later my storm door was opened and I could then unlock my basement door.
I made my way upstairs and see monkey #1s snow pants and scarf hanging on the front door handle. The culprit was the snow pants!
Apparently, this was just enough weight to disengage the front handle.
My door handle was not broken. What blessing!
Excerpt from my nightly gratitude journal:
I am so happy and grateful for my neighbors. They let us hang out and opened my door.
I am so happy and grateful that my door handle is not broken.
I am so happy and grateful for my brother cleaning off my car this morning.
I am so happy and grateful I didn’t have to cook dinner tonight.
I am so happy and grateful for the extra sleep this morning.
Lights out. I am happy. Content. Grateful. I slept well.
Know there is something to be grateful for each and every day. Even when it all seems to get turned upside down, it’s the little things and the learning you gain that make it worthwhile.
This season of thanksgiving is a perfect time to develop a gratitude practice. Give it a try!
Take the time to be thankful each day.
It makes a difference.
Your happiness will increase, your perspective will shift, and you will develop an attitude of gratitude.
Have you been able to find gratitude within a mishap or stressful time? Please share in the comments below.