One of my resolutions for the next 12 months is to moan less and to smile more. Which, when I think back to my business studies lectures about goals being SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based) this life goal doesn’t tick a lot of these boxes. However, I do want to start feeling happier and more grateful for the wonderful life I have, and the lovely people I have in it.
I am a fairly happy person, day-to-day. I do mostly tend to look on the bright side of life. But I also have a tendency to get stressed and upset over very trivial things, such as heavy rain on the school run or the kids making a lot of mess in the living room. And if I’m tired or busy I can feel even worse about these situations.
Brother David Steindl-Rast says it all comes down to a very simple formula: Stop. Look. Go. “That’s all,” he said on the TED stage. “But how often do we stop? We rush through life. We don’t stop. We miss the opportunity because we don’t stop. We have to stop, we have to get quiet, and we have to build stop signs into our lives.”
I looked into to art of being more grateful and a lot of the main advice given is to create a gratitude/grateful list every day. This, it says, helps you to remember the things you are thankful for and thus reminds you why you should be happy.
So I started writing one. Which I am enjoying. It’s given me more persecutive and definitely helping to lift the days when I have my lower moods.
Definition of gratitude journal, by Wikipedia: “A gratitude journal is a diary of things for which one is grateful. Gratitude journals are used by individuals who wish to focus their attention on the positive things in their lives. Gratitude, the feeling of appreciation or thanks, has gained a lot of attention in the field of positive psychology. Some studies have found that those who are habitually grateful are happier than those who are not. Furthermore, studies suggest that feelings of gratitude may even possess mental and physical health benefits. Positive psychology strives to develop methods by which one can consistently enhance gratitude levels. Furthermore, the maintenance of a gratitude journal can help relieve depressive symptoms”.
If you’re interested, then here’s how you can get involved in focusing on gratitude too:
Invest in a Journal.
The first step towards making your gratitude list a daily habit is by investing in a journal. Find the right notepad or a book that compels you to use it every day and keep it somewhere like on a bedside table, for use before you go to sleep, or before you get up. This way your journal will also become a sentimental object and a symbol of appreciation in itself. Just seeing it there will inspire a sense of gratitude.
Writing it down.
Take a few minutes to write down 5-10 things you’re grateful for (although there are no rules – it’s yours; use it how you wish!). This will change your mindset and help you to look for the good from your day. Take note of what is on your list that fulfils you too (i.e. people, work, praise). Are these things emotional, physical, or spiritual? Does it have to do with your career, community, or money? Reflect on it; you may see patterns emerging which will help you to understand yourself much better.
Make it your own.
The first rule of writing a gratitude list is there are no set, strict rules. Don’t worry if you don’t know what to write, or where to start. Also, be realistic about how many things you’re thankful for too; you don’t need to jot down an exhaustive list — just start with a few things. I write things down such as “Enjoyed our chat on our walk home from school”, or “I had a lovely catch up with a friend” or “I got great feedback on a blog post today”, but you can literally write down whatever you like.
Sometimes you’ll approach your gratitude list feeling downright gloomy, and the idea of being thankful will seem like an impossible task. But once you start thinking about the good from your day you will instantly begin to feel better.
Keep it up.
Don’t worry if you miss a day or two, you’ll soon get back into it again. And, like me, you will probably find that you start to look forward to seeking out the good parts from your day.
Written by Editor, Jess Soothill