I am loving this trend, to focus on Gratitude. With so much bad news and the media blowing all the drama and negative news way out of proportion, it is refreshing to dwell on the positive. If you spend any amount of time on the internet, it is probable that you will get caught up in the doom and gloom. Complaining becomes the norm and criticism a habit.
I am all for gratitude, not because it’s rude to be ungrateful, but because gratitude fills our ‘wells’. By focussing on the positives in our lives, it recentres our thoughts around pleasant things
Gratitude is contagious
Let’s make gratitude contagious. If we are positive and show gratitude, it rubs off onto those around us. Let us practice it and live it. Most of us have so much to be grateful for. Yes, we have a right to our opinion, but be mindful of how your attitude will rub off on those around you. Be that first domino.
Having a grateful attitude is not only for the benefit of others. Gratitude causes us to be healthier and happier too and has numerous other benefits which you can find further down on the blog. Isn’t that what we all want?
We all know those people who complain about everything. They are exhausting to be around and you leave their presence feeling drained. It can affect your state of mind for the rest of the day. Instead of the usual corridor gossip, talk to your friends and work colleagues about the things you are grateful for, be the one to get everybody positive and upbeat. You will be amazed at how much influence you have.
Start a Gratitude Journal
One of the best ways to start your day on a positive note, is with a Gratitude Journal.
I have always been an advocator of journaling. I started journaling in 2005 and I often look through my old diaries for inspiration. In fact, it has now been statistically proven to be therapeutic.
- A new study of a three-month trial of gratitude journaling found that both reflective (finding things to be grateful for) and reflective-behavioral (finding things to be grateful for and expressing your gratitude) journaling have a significant, positive impact on well being and depression (O’Connell, O’Shea, & Gallagher, 2017).
- Another new study showed that Turkish freshmen who completed a three week gratitude journal experienced greater gratitude, better adjustment to university life, higher life satisfaction, and enhanced positive affect, compared to a control group of freshmen (Işık & Ergüner-Tekinalp, 2017).
- Gratitude journaling has even been shown to help divorced parents forgive their ex-spouse(s), an extremely important step towards positive co-parenting (Rye, Fleri, Moore, Worthington, Wade, Sandage, & Cook, 2012).
We recommend it for our counselees facing tough times as a tool to deal with situations and the feedback has been tremendous. That was how I started journaling and experienced the benefits first hand.
A gratitude journal takes everyday journaling a step further. A regular journal/diary records everyday events which can be good or bad. A gratitude journal encourages us to focus only on the positive.
It is easy to be grateful when life is good and we are surrounded by comfort and happiness. When the chips are down, it is more difficult but that is when we need that attitude of gratitude most of all. As with all habits, it is something that can be developed.
Think about the positives in bad situations too. These are the times when our characters undergo the greatest amount of growth.
Benefits of Gratitude Journaling
- Reduces stress which means it is beneficial to our health
- Gives you a new perspective on situations and life in general
- Keeps you focused on the good things
- Raises self-awareness. What you are grateful for says a lot about who you are
- Highlights what we value and need more of in our lives
- A future reference point for areas to work on. It is a record that you can always keep and refer back to when needed. It’s like being your own good influence.
- Prepares you in advance (fills your well in preparation for the tough times)
How to get started
- Use a piece of paper if you have to. If you have a notebook or pad, use that. You can even use your phone, computer or tablet, whatever works for you. Although it is said that writing helps with the flow of thoughts, so when I am in creative mode, I always write vs type.
- Dig deep and think outside of the box. You will be surprised. When we think of the things that we are grateful for, it is often the obvious ones that come to mind. But there is so much more around us if we make the effort to look for it. Think about why you are grateful for something and that can lead to other ideas. What else does it make you think of? How does it make you feel?
- When you journal is not important and again it must work for you. I find first thing in the morning best because it puts me in a good frame of mind and lifts the spirit for the day. Set aside a time that is convenient for you.
- Spend time thinking about what you are grateful for. Don’t rush through and treat it as another chore. Enjoy the process and each day think of at least two or three things that you are grateful for.
- It takes 3 weeks to change a habit, so try journaling for at least a month.
- Be creative. Take photos. Use colors. Make it personal and uniquely you.
Tools to assist
“WikiHow” even has a page dedicated to gratitude journaling (https://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Gratitude-Journal)
There is even “an app for that”. Told you it was popular.
The ‘Gratitude Journal’ app is free for Apple and comes recommended by Positive Psychology. For a small charge ($2-3) you can get a pro version depending how much you want to get out of it. The advanced version has several creative options to make it more fun.
There are several available so check out the app stores and find something that suits you. I can’t give too much input here as, like I said, I write the good old fashioned way : )
You can even make and decorate a Gratitude jar if you are feeling really crafty. Write the things you are grateful for on a piece of paper which then goes into the jar. When you are feeling a little low on enthusiasm, take them out to read back to yourself.
There are loads of templates and ideas available. Some are free and some are at a small cost. There are a couple of Gratitude Journal Diaries on Takealot for around R100-R150 if you prefer to write and color.
Follow The Wateringwell’s Pinterest board for ideas or search gratitude boards and gratitude journal boards for plenty of inspiration.
I will leave you with this quote from John F. Kennedy: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Positive Psychology.com/Gratitude Journal: 67 Templates, Ideas, and Apps for Your Diary