Following the recent blog article about the positive benefits of gratitude, a number of people have asked how they can get started with this practice.
Expressing what you are grateful can lift your mood, help you to adopt a positive mindset, alter your perspective to make you appreciate that which you have and also open your eyes to the countless opportunities which we are presented with every single day. There are no downsides to expressing gratitude.
Different approaches work for different people. One method which I have recently seen on Instagram involves a jar, a pen and a notepad. Every time you feel that you have something for which to be thankful, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, read each of those notes to remind yourself what a positive year you’ve had. Once a year is not frequent enough for review and reflection, as we need these opportunities to refocus, gain perspective and receive a boost of positivity a lot more often. Sticking with the jar approach, you can empty it out on a weekly or monthly basis and revisit everything which you have to be thankful for so far.
Some people prefer expressing gratitude with posts on their social media platforms, while others prefer to share it with a loved one in conversation.
What work best for me is a method which I learned from Darren Hardy, the author of Success Magazine. Several years ago, on Thanksgiving, I read a post in which Darren introduced the idea of a daily gratitude journal.
The gratitude journal idea, which he introduced, is very simple. Every day, for 21 days, write down 3 things for which you are grateful in your life. Try to avoid repeating the same items day after day. I tried it, enjoyed it and by the end of the first week it had become a habit.
Personally, I prefer to grab a pen and keep track of my gratitude in a notebook. This makes it easy to revisit previous weeks and months, to see how my blessings are multiplying as I make progress towards my goals. Better still, research has shown that when you use pen and paper, you tend to think more carefully about what you are about to write, as you can’t just hit a delete button. So, for me, it’s the perfect approach as I love to reflect and write.
The best time to do this is either in the morning soon after you wake up, or just before bed. In the morning, it will put you in a positive frame of mind to attack the day ahead. On the other hand, if you do it at night, it can relieve the stresses of the day and lead to more restful sleep.
All of this is great, but what do you actually write? What does it look like? Well, you pick a style that you are comfortable with, whether it be bullet points or more detailed descriptions. I’ll leave you with my gratitude journal entry for today;
Sunday 21st January 2018
I am grateful for;
- My health. I am grateful for all of the treatment, help and support which has helped me to regain my health and fitness after a sudden and serious illness.
- My blog. I am grateful for this opportunity to reach people all over the world with my writing, in the hope that it might make a positive difference.
- My job. While I am far from happy there, and doing all I can to move on, I am grateful for the fact that I actually have a job. I am grateful for my colleagues who are lovely people, and I am grateful for the pockets of time which I am able to carve out in each workday to focus on my goals and landing my next role.
I have only included the first 3, so as not to bore you. As you can see, it is very simple. Bullet points, with the object of my gratitude in 2 or 3 words, are followed by a short explanation. Not only does the explanation force me to reflect for longer on that particular point, but it also becomes so much easier to make sense of it when I revisit my gratitude journal entry for that day.