Keeping a Gratitude Journal
We all live such busy lives, always rushing from one thing to a next, that so many things just past us by without notice. We are all guilty of being distracted, writing an email whilst talking to a friend or colleague or thinking about what we have to do that day mid-way through a downward dog in a yoga class! The trouble with this constant 'background noise' is that we don't appreciate everyday things that actually mean a lot.
Writing things down is great practise and has actually been linked in studies to better sleep and increased happiness among adults. I know when I went through a period of suffering from anxiety, writing down what was going through my mind was one of the fastest ways to help myself relax and get back on top of things. Gratitude journals are a wonderful way of reminding ourselves of all of the things we have to be thankful for but I know for me at least it was hard to know how to start! So I wanted to share some tips with you to encourage you to take the time to appreciate the small and big things that sometimes pass us by...
1) Find a special book or notepad to write in. Being able to look back through your journal is a big part of the process and so having something you enjoy aesthetically is an added bonus to all the positive things you write inside it. Avoid using apps or your computer - the physical action of writing it down on paper is much more powerful.
2) When I first came across the idea of starting a gratitude journal it seemed like most things I read recommended writing down 5 things each evening that you are grateful for tends to be the most common instruction. For me, I found that really tricky, especially when I first gave it a try. I would always wait until bedtime before writing it, then would sit there thinking of things to write, almost feeling pressure to come up with something meaningful. So I decided that I would write my own rules a little, after all a journal is personal to you and should be for you and no one else. If writing it once a week on a Sunday afternoon means that you can relax into it, that is a lot more beneficial and meaningful than forcing five things while you're straining to stay awake!
3) Look beyond material possessions. Of course, we can be grateful for all the amazing things that we are lucky enough to own but what about the people around you, the places you have been, the skills you have or the situations we find ourselves in? These are all things that we should feel thankful for.
I hope these three tips are helpful to you in starting or keeping a gratitude journal and by way of example I wanted to share a few of the things I have been grateful for so far this week:
1) The sun shining in the garden while I was working out
2) Spending time with my family who live on the other side of the world
3) A delivery of some of the best houmous I've ever tried!
So be humble, be grateful and be happy.