Do you keep a gratitude journal?
I started using one several years ago for no other reason than someone in my networking group had designed and printed some and I thought I’d support her.
I was instantly hooked. From an ‘in the moment’ physical thing to do sense. I really enjoyed taking two minutes at the end of the day to think back over the events, people and things I was grateful for. But could it have an effect other than a small moment of enjoyment? Could it, for example, change my mind's tendency to see the negative things in life, the frequent dreaming up of worst case scenarios?
Very soon I realised I was reframing my thoughts and feeling better about life. For example, where I once would have been irritated that it had rained when I wanted to go for a walk with friends (I know, what a wimp!) that night when I wrote in my journal I would mention how a rainy day was great because I wouldn’t have to water the veges tomorrow. And great for our food-growers and our land in general.
A few months later I noticed some other changes:
- I didn’t have to wait until I wrote my journal at the end of the day to feel happier. I was picking up on things at the time they happened, and without conscious effort was changing how I was affected by them.
For example, if I was picking up a child from sports practice and it was running late, I didn’t get frustrated that I had to sit around then get stuck in rush hour traffic. I whipped out a book to read (it helps that I always tote around a large bag full of ‘just in case’ items) and felt happy that a longer journey home would mean more time to catch up with my child. If you have teens, especially boys, you’ll know that often they have to be trapped in the car with you to have any chance of conversation!
- I was less grumpy! With the above example I would previously have moaned at said late child, even though it wasn’t his fault. You know ‘selfish coach’, ‘now we’ll be stuck in traffic’, ‘dinner will be late and I’m already tired’ blah blah blah! How would that have helped the situation? Would it have made the queue of cars suddenly disappear? I really laugh at the old me now!
- I WAS able to ditch those worst-case scenario thoughts. That has been a blessing for my mental health. As we know, worrying about things that might happen really messes with our current happiness. And (I’ll probably write another blog on this one) our physical well-being too.
A few tips:
- You don’t have to write deep and meaningful things. I’ve sometimes felt a little guilty that I mainly focus on events that affect me and my friends and family. But why should I?
Nobody else is going to see what I wrote and judge me!
- Try to expand, just a little, on what you’ve written. For example, instead of saying you’re grateful for your dog, you might put ‘I’m grateful to have Rover because I get to take him for walk every day in the fresh air, even if I don’t feel like it.’
- Don’t feel obliged to keep your journal every day. But I tell you what, getting into the habit of doing it often really does bring those benefits. I got into the habit easily by leaving my journal and pen on my bed in the morning so it was simple for me to pick it up and write when I got into bed. It very quickly became a part of my bedtime routine*.
When I’m away from home I use Awesome Inc’s mini journals. They’re the ones that are in our Gratitude Gift Sets*. They’re small, light and won’t affect your kg allowance if you’re traveling by plane. You could simply use it as a way to retain lovely memories of the trip you’ve had. And I bet if you do, you won’t dwell on the bits that went wrong. Like getting lost in the hire car (you’ll focus on how you discovered a new part of town) or the bed being uncomfortable (that meant you got up early and enjoyed a lovely hour unwinding the kinks with a peaceful morning stretch)!
Our Gratitude Gift Sets could also be known as Bedtime Routine sets - Soak, Spray, Soothe - Soak in an Epsom salt-based bath to relax your mind and body.
Spray magnesium oil onto your feet to help you sleep.
Soothe your soul by getting onto paper the things you're grateful for.
Soon your mind and body will learn that this is what you do just before you fall into a restful sleep!
If you’d like to find out more about the science behind gratitude journaling, and see their full range of books (they have lovely hard-backed full sized ones, and effective ones for teens; what an amazing habit to get into from young) and free resources, head to Awesome Inc. They're a NZ biz with personal knowledge of how gratitude can positively affect your mental and physical health.
And (I'm very grateful for this) they have given us a code for YOU to get 15% off their gratitude journals (excluding bundles and toolkits) - saltandoil15
If you enjoyed this wee blog of mine, I'd be very grateful if you shared it to help us spread the word about gratitude and its powers, thank you, Dionne x