Gratitude is good for you. There’s evidence!
As People Voodoo is all about looking after ourselves, I started 2016 (not a typo, it was a while ago) with the intention of collating a Happy Jar to top up my own gratitude.
I wanted to become more conscious of, and grateful for, the good things in my life. This jar was all about recording funny moments, achievements, memories to treasure, surprise compliments, activities I enjoyed, etc. You name it, I was going to record it, and with every day that went by, it was going to make me happier and more grateful!
It didn’t last long.
Why? Because I am not a ‘do something every day’ person. Who was I kidding? I can’t even eat the same thing for breakfast 6 days in the row without it feeling repetitive. Motivating myself to write on a piece of paper every day for 365 days was pure torture. It also felt a bit shallow.
I am, however, very grateful for my Happy Jar revelations! Every cloud has a silver lining and mine is that I find it easy to be grateful for lessons I’ve learnt. Since then, I’ve been in search of another way to top up my gratitude levels. Something that’s both satisfying and sustainable. Interested?
I now write a gratitude journal. But before I encourage you to start a journal of your own, you need to be willing to make 2 very important commitments.
Commitment 1 – ‘Decisive’ over ‘daily’
It’s important to keep this activity guilt free. You need to commit to writing when the mood takes you. If that’s every 2nd Thursday or when your team plays a home game, then so be it. There can be no forced daily ritual – just a clear decision to top up your gratitude. Of course if you want to do it daily, that’s OK too.
Commitment 2 – No listing, but lots of learning
Anyone can throw together a list of positive things. This journal is not about list-writing the obvious, it’s about digging deep and challenging yourself to be grateful for the tough stuff and the fire of experience, as well as the shiny, sparkly bits of life.
If you’re willing to make these 2 commitments, then here’s what to do.
Step 1 – Reflect (Thanks to Anna Kane for the 3 points of reflection)
Start off by taking a few minutes to think about things that have happened to you since you last wrote. These do not need to be life-changing events, but you do need one for each of the following three categories.
Step 2 – Look for things to be grateful for in this situation or experience
If, for example, your ‘challenging situation’ was an argument with your partner about whose family to spend the weekend with, then ‘things to be grateful for’ might include:
that we both have a family we love,
that I have a partner I care about,
that I feel secure enough in my relationship to express my true feelings,
that s/he feels secure to do that with me,
that we don’t have bigger things to argue about,
that we don’t argue often,
that we are both generally willing to compromise,
that the children weren’t home to hear it,
that we both get weekends off work together,
Keep going until you run out of things to be grateful for in each of the 3 situations. Properly run out, not just when you’ve done a few.
Step 3 – Review the lessons
Now that you are in a more grateful place, consider the impact of what you’ve uncovered and actions you might take as a result.
What have you learnt from this scenario?
Have you changed your attitude or perspective on anything following this reflection?
What are you drawn to doing as a result of your learning?
Have a play with it and do let me know if it works for you.
Happy journalling xx