How many of us forget to be grateful for all the blessings we have each and every day? Just waking up in the morning is a blessing. Being able to see, walk, use your dominant hand (I had rotator cuff surgery this past year and couldn’t use my dominant hand for months). It’s easy to take the little things for granted; but the little things are what really matter the most.
How many of you fall down the rabbit hole of “if only I had gotten the promotion,” “if only I had more money,” “if only I had a better car…” It’s easy to go straight to the negative especially with everything going on in today’s world, but…
We have a choice. We all have a choice to be happy and grateful. Like anything, it’s a learned habit. Phillippa Lally, health psychology researcher at University College London, performed a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. The study showed developing a habit can take 21 to 254 days with the average time being 66 days before it becomes automatic.
Yes, that’s a wide range of time, but it isn’t an excuse to stop trying when we miss a day or two. We’re not perfect. It takes time and just because we miss a day doesn’t mean we’re no good, a failure… If we miss a day, we start again tomorrow. This goes for any habit we’re trying to start – exercising, eating healthier, meditating, writing in a gratitude journal…
Grateful for My Gratitude Journal (So Far)
I’m going to be honest with you; I’ve been developing my habit of writing in a gratitude journal for a long, long time. I’m talking years, and it doesn’t mean I don’t practice gratitude in my head, I do.
When I wake up in the morning, I thank God for a new day, for my health. When I walk, I thank God for the sun, the trees, the beautiful weather, the flowers… The same thing when I’m riding in the car. You see where I’m going. Each day I’m thankful for my family; I have the best husband and son and friends. I’m grateful for my home, my business, and thankful when I make a goal in my business… Our unwritten thoughts are great, let’s go to the next level and see the importance of writing them down on paper.
Written Thoughts and Then…
I bought a gratitude journal this year, 2019. My plan was to write in it come heck or high water. On January 1 I started writing down three things each day I was grateful for… I actually wrote in the journal all of January and February which is huge for me. Then came March and I had surgery on my dominant arm… Four weeks in a sling then PT; there went my habit. It’s been five months now and I just started writing in the journal again. It’s one reason why I’m writing this post.
I looked in my journal the other day and noticed I haven’t written anything down about my successes/gratefulness in business, life, or my struggles for five months. Writing down your daily gratitude doesn’t have to take a lot of time. When we write things down we can go back and look at the events and times we were grateful; no matter how small because when we go back and read the entries we can see them in our minds and remember the action, the moment and it can help, especially on bad days.
An example I can use is when I was going through physical therapy after surgery there were days I had tears in my eyes. The therapist stretched my arm and the goal was to bring it as close to my ear as possible keeping it straight. The movement hurt so bad I’d bring my feet and knees into a 90-degree angle and lift them off the table and it was at that point she knew it was enough, but on the days she was able to stretch my arm far enough for it to touch my ear (really a huge milestone) – I could have come back and written in my journal how grateful I was my arm was able to stretch to my ear, but I didn’t. Yes, the little moments are really huge moments.
Read below for my three tips on how you can make a habit for writing in your gratitude journal…
1. Discover Your Why
It is scientifically proven gratitude improves your physical and psychological health. If improving your health isn’t enough for you then I’m not sure what else will make you want to at least try writing a gratitude journal.
Grateful people are more likely to take care of their health and experience less aches and pains. It also reduces emotions of envy, resentment, frustration, and regret. When you think about the positive things in life you don’t focus on everything that’s going or could go wrong.
Think about your values. Are any of them inline with being grateful? Some of my top values are happiness, love, kindness, optimism, peace, pleasure, to name a few. If these ring true to you this is part of your why – to be happy. People who are happy live in gratitude.
Plan a time each day to write in your gratitude book. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, after your workday, or before your head hits the pillow at night. The important thing is be consistent, put it on your calendar if doing so will help you remember, but do it. Same time, same place.
Commit to write in your journal for 30 days. See what happens. Do this for 30 days. Keep track of when you write and when you don’t; be honest because only you know. When we’re committed to make a new habit or train for a race or learn a new instrument it’s because our WHY is so great nothing stops us, our PLAN is set and nothing deters us (your PLAN can change just get back on track), and we are COMMITTED to what we’re doing and we have SUPPORT in place during the hard times when we don’t want to keep going. Make it fun and find an accountability partner to do this with you. You can text or share each day to stay on track.
How to Start
My challenge to you is to write down three things you are grateful for each day. They can be simple things such as: I’m thankful for my health, I’m grateful I have a job, I’m grateful for my family. Try not to write the same thing every day, if possible. The point is you don’t have to make it difficult, but as time goes on you’ll notice it becomes easier and your thoughts may go deeper, or not.
Oh, you don’t have a journal – no excuses. This is the first one I’ve ever had. You can use small index cards, plain notebook paper, grab a blank notebook at the store. Just saying, not having an actual gratitude journal isn’t an excuse.
For the next 30 days, August 19-September 19, I’m going to post my gratitude entries on Instagram. Follow me @yourliteraryprose. I invite you to post your entries, or if you aren’t comfortable posting your entries, post you completed the task each day (be honest) and use the hashtag #gratitudeYLP2019.
Until next time,
As a side note, if you’re looking toBe Happy No Matter What, check out the book by my friend and colleague Ellen Seigel.