Grateful, gratitude, thankful, appreciation. We have all heard about gratitude and the power it can have. But, do we stop and reflect on the gratitude in our lives regularly? If the answer is yes, you probably have felt the benefits of directing your focus on things you do have rather than the things you don’t have. But, what does it mean to be grateful and to feel it with your whole heart? Are you embodying that?
Start a Gratitude Email
More than 2 years ago a dear friend of mine said we should start writing an email to each other every night about at least 3 things that we are grateful for. The evening was easy, a reflection of the day, noting what I was grateful for and sending it off. Doing this as a daily gratitude journal in an email to a friend helped the habit stick as it held us accountable to each other. After weeks and weeks, the lists got longer and longer. There were repetitive items and upon reflection also awareness of the not-so-nice aspects of the day. Sometimes even finding a lesson in those lower moments allowed me to find gratitude where I otherwise may have not thought to look.
After a while, I was explaining the benefits to my best friend and she was instantly interested. Because I already had a night-time gratitude email going we decided to start daily morning gratitude. I must say that initially, and still, over two years later, I do find the morning a bit more difficult to write compared to the evening. It’s not as much a reflection on the day that has just past. But, rather, upon waking what am I grateful for? Admittedly some mornings are easier than others. But, having this habit of both morning and evening gratitude has greatly and positively impacted my life.
The Power of Sharing
One of my favourite things about this practice, (other than keeping up with loved ones that don’t live in the same city as me) was that I began to be grateful for their gratitude. Specific things that they had said in their gratitude email made it back in my writing. Sharing gratitude has had a markedly profound impact on me. I had done for 5 years a solo gratitude journal just for myself and noticed the difference in sharing with loved ones. With that being said, any daily gratitude journal practice is bound to highlight the things in life we are thankful for and a beautiful way to show appreciation for it.
Noticing WHAT You’re Grateful For
There are often themes and patterns and regular things that show up in my gratitude. This highlights what is important to me and what I truly value. Often my daily gratitude journal sent via email has food in it. Which is a reminder for me to eat slow, taste the flavours, and to savour and enjoy that aspect of my life instead of wolfing it down and looking for more. I also write about the connections and quality time I spend with others and time spending activities I enjoy. The times when the daily gratitude is harder to find is an indication to me that I need to spend more time on self-care instead of getting caught up in the busy-ness of life.
Themes such as: what are you grateful for about your career, your body, your personality, about your home, in your partner, about your friendships, about nature and the planet, about your possessions could be focuses for each week.
Look for the Lesson: Further Enquiry
Some journals have prompts that allow you to go more into enquiry with what you have brought to the surface and this might be beneficial to start. Another exercise would be to bring up those sore spots and moments that you initially may have not been grateful for, perhaps an annoyance or irritation or something that made you angry or frustrated. Searching for you can take from it in gratitude and then look for the lesson.
- What’s the best thing I can get from this?
- Can I prevent this from occurring in the future?
- How can I reframe my reaction for next time?
- Why did this have an impact on me?
- How does this make me feel about myself?
Self-reflection and self-awareness allow for growth. Humans desire to evolve and grow. So, being grateful for what you have or where you are can show you how far you have come and the potential for even more growth. A daily gratitude journal may just be what you are looking for.
So get out a pen, write a note on your laptop, or even your phone are right here right NOW, what are three things you are grateful for?
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