A Book of Blessings – Tips to Writing a Gratitude Journal

I have been writing in a journal for almost 10 years now.  I remember starting out wondering exactly how to write down my thoughts.  I fought back the initial urge to start with “Dear Diary…..”! My first instinct was to write about all the things I was unhappy about (and I think I did)  – how I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my life, how I  didn’t love my job, how I thought the Universe was plotting against me, and on and on and on.  As I began to write more, and perhaps after seeing my sad, raw thoughts written down, I began to slowly transition into writing about the experiences for which I was grateful.  Sound too simple?  It actually is. 

We spoke Monday about finding an outlet during the inevitable rocky times in our lives.  When we find an outlet for our negative thoughts and feelings, we almost always feel better.  Think about the times you just needed to vent to someone, or how you felt after having a challenging work-out, or after meditating for 20 min or even 2 minutes!  Writing in a journal is another vessel to pour your thoughts into.  What we find is that once the negativity is let out, we allow space for gratitude to come in.  As I continued to write over the years, my journal became a book of blessings.  It became a great tool to release stress and focus on what was good – and there was A LOT of good!   Here are some tips to starting your own book of blessings, or gratitude journal:

1.  Decide on the type of journal book.  Does it have an inspirational cover or is it a specific color?  Is it blank inside or have lines?  Are you better at writing on your computer or ipad?  Keep the book/laptop some place in your house where you can see it (I keep my journal book next to my bed with a pen). 

2.  Commit to a writing schedule.  It doesn’t have to be every day and it doesn’t have to elaborate, but having a schedule will keep you motivated and focused on the positive experiences of your day.

3.  Include experiences, not just things Think about how certain moments of your day make you feel.  You may feel grateful for having the money to buy a new outfit, but how does putting it on make you feel? Confident, poised, successful?  When you’re thankful for your baby’s smile, what feelings does that invoke in you – love, warmth, happiness?

4.  Write out 3-5 moments you are thankful for.  Either write out a list or write out your day as a story.  Often, I will re-read what I’ve written in the past, and it will always bring a smile to my face and shift my focus.

5.  Keep it real.  Write in a way that is personal and authentic to you.  It’s not about making your entries flowery or poetic.  Remember, you are not being judged by the style of your writing.  Just write your truth.

Journaling is a great way to recount your blessings.  You will find they are all around you and come in ways you didn’t imagine.  Remember to have gratitude for the hard lessons. Your rocky times may have blessings written all over them!

A Grateful Loss

I just finished watching one of my favorite shows on the FOOD NETWORK – The Next Food Network Star.  I watched as one of the contestants, Mary Beth Albright (a food writer from Washington DC), was voted off by the selection committee.  She made a statement through her tears as she left the studio that made me think.  She said, “A lot of people…….don’t get an opportunity like the one I’ve had.  How can I be anything but grateful?“. 

I thought about gratitude, as I neared the end of a tough week.  It was one of those weeks where I felt a general sense of uneasiness and tension about little things that weren’t going as planned.  As a result, my body felt weak and exhausted.  (Remember the effects of feeding the Mind-Body loop?  You can feed it in a positive, as well as negative way!)  The negative cycle can literally drown you unless you swim hard to the top, or, in my case, have someone that pulls you out .  Today, that person was my mother.  She reminded me to feel grateful.  She reminded me of all the little things were going right.  There were hundreds of them.  The most amazing thing was that, after I got off the phone with her, I had a complete change in attitude.  All of a sudden, my energy shifted and the world looked brighter.  Just like Mary Beth, I thought, “How could I be anything but grateful?” 

As I fed my mind positive thoughts, my body ate them up and I felt energized.  I went for a long run and felt gratitude for my health.  I caught up with friends and felt gratitude for the people in my life.  I cooked a delicious meal and felt gratitude for the beautiful food on my plate.  As I continued to focus on what was good, I found more things to be grateful for.  That’s the gift we receive when we feed our minds with appreciation.   

Yes, we all have issues in our lives that stump us and slow us down, and they are REAL.  But also remember that what we focus on, multiplies.  Problems escalate when we keep hitting the RE-PLAY button in our brains – the negative feedback loop.   Though we may intuitively recognize the importance of feeling gratitude in our day to day lives, sometimes it’s just too hard to hit the STOP button.  In those cases, create an outlet or lean on the  people that can remind you of your strengths.  Even a little dose of positivity can create a shift in vibration.  

So maybe Mary Beth Albright won’t be the Next Food Network Star.  And perhaps some might think she lost the competition.  But I think that in her own heart she feels she has won.  Now that’s something to be grateful for! 

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness:  What can you do to create a feeling of gratitude during rocky times?  Are there books, rituals, or people you can lean on to remind you to focus on what is good? 

Jump Into the Unknown

I thought we’d end our week on the importance of taking risks by a quote I recently read in Whole Living Magazine.  It is an exerpt from the book, The Art of Uncertainty, by Dennis Merritt Jones.

“We were born fully equipped to break free of past confining conditions,that no longer serve us.  And it is our destiny to do so.  That inner impulse, that yearning to explore beyond the boundaries of our daily life permeates every living thing, and its voice perpetually whispers in our inner ear, ‘Grow, grow, grow…’  But, there is another voice that often speaks much louder, the voice of fear.  It shouts, ‘No, no, no…stay right where you are.  While you may not like it, you risk nothing by staying put.’ 

But, unfortunately, that is the big lie.  There is great risk in resisting the divine urge to grow.”

We all intuitively have the urge to expand, stretch, and grow.  Is fear keeping you from taking the necessary risks to accomplish those things?  I had stated in a former post that fear is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real.  It exists only in our minds and can keep us locked up. 

Why not be excited about the uncertainty that exists?  As you start your weekend, trade in your fearful thoughts for confident ones, as you begin to risk believing in yourself, risk showing your truth, risk venturing outside your comfort zone.  Jump, leap, hop, or skip willingly into the unknown.  It will free you and add excitement and growth to your life!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Your True Colors

Have you ever felt torn between doing what is easy and doing what you know is right?  Of course, doing what is easy in life is simple.  You wouldn’t have to confront a fear, you wouldn’t need to face the core of a problem, you wouldn’t have to deal with the difficult decisions that need to be addressed.  Many of us take this route, because doing the hard work involves taking a risk.

Facing what is true for us – whether it’s taking a stand on something we believe in or expressing to others what we really think and feel – means we not only have to face our truth, we have to value our truth.  We all have an inherent desire to feel worthy.  Showing others who we are takes courage and integrity.  It means we have to risk feeling judged, inadequate, embarrassed, or unworthy.

When we can diverge from the easy path and choose the road that will inevitably be more rocky, we can start living more authentically.  Making the conscious decision to do the right thing stems from your deep morals, values, and acceptance of yourself.  There is no greater freedom than knowing you can be exactly who you are and feel that you are enough.  You will find that most people hold a greater respect for those that take the risk involved in doing the right thing.  But what really matters is how much you respect yourself.

What would it take for you to be honest with yourself and risk showing people your true colors?

The Risk in Believing

Yesterday evening, I was out on a boat in the lake with several friends.  After the sun went down and the sky turned dark, the stars illuminated overhead on the clear night.  I sat on the upper deck looking across the Milky Way when I saw a shooting star!  I’ve seen a few here and there in my life, but this one seemed to shoot forever, leaving behind a trail of glassy stars.  I made a wish – because that’s just what I do, whether it’s birthday candles, a feather gliding in the air, a coin tossed in a fountain – any superstitious moment I deem pertinent, I will risk believing that my wish is granted.  I’ve always been a dreamer.  My family and friends can tell you that from a very young age, I’ve always believed anything is possible – maybe to a fault.  People would often ask me why I would risk believing something, only to be disappointed.  But isn’t that what risk-taking is all about?

When we think about taking a risk in life, we are really talking about taking a chance.   It could be as basic as making a wish or a plea to the Universe, or it could be taking up a new sport, learning a new skill, signing up for class.  We take a chance at having an experience that is potentially exciting and one which will stretch us beyond our boundaries.  That is the hope.  But taking that chance also means there is a flip side to the coin, which is really the “risk” – by believing in something we think is possible or by making the decision that could stretch us , we may not experience what we want.  In our minds, that means the risk of hurt, disappointment, despair, or failure. 

But think about this:  How would we ever grow, learn, prosper, or truly love, if we didn’t take risks?  Michaelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us is NOT that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it”.  Why not take a risk and aim high?  Why not believe that you have what it takes to do something that scares you, that pushes you to new levels, that allows you to give and love more than you thought possible? 

It has to start first in the mind as a dream or a wish.  So go ahead and wish on a shooting star or whatever circumstance holds meaning to you.  Declare it to yourself and to the Universe.  And then you can take the necessary steps to make it come true.  Sure, there will be certain things out of  your control, but often they are right  in your hands.  

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness:  Rememer YOU hold the dice.  No one else can roll them for you.  You have to take a risk.  What have you been wishing for or dreaming about doing, being, or having in your life?  What can you do today to start moving yourself toward it?  Take 3 steps this week in that direction.

Find Your Spirit

As we finish our topic of SPIRIT this week, I thought we’d ponder the two phrases below…..

“There is a guidance for each of us, and by slowly listening we shall hear the right word .  Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into your life. Then, without effort, you are impelled to truth and to perfect contentment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Spirit is an invisible force made visible in all life.” – Maya Angelou


Think about those two phrases above as you start your weekend.  Have faith in the power that you harness.  There is a light that radiates and shines through you.  

Have a great weekend!

A Spiritual Connection Within

This evening, I ventured out to try a new yoga studio.  I have been in search of a vinyasa practice that would be a good fit for me.  The minute I walked into the studio, I immediately felt a certain energy in the room.  The class had not yet begun, but I just knew that this was going to be the place for me.  I certainly used my intuitive sixth sense on this, and I was correct. 

Yoga has been a part of my life, exercising the mind and body, for some time now.  As we discuss the topic of SPIRIT this week, I thought about the strong link between spiritual connection, or enlightenment, and yoga.  Through yoga practice, we strengthen our spirit by bringing our energy inward, starting with an awareness to our breath.  It is the first kriya, or action of our soul.  By turning inward, we can access that part of us that connects to something greater – that intuitive energy we discussed, the divine power that resides within us, and our authentic selves. 

The path to spiritual wellness can take any form.  It can involve prayer, meditation, affirmations, and/or any specific belief system you espouse.  The important piece is that you find purpose and meaning to the flow of your life.  Although yoga is my conduit for this flow, being mindful does not have to come only through yoga.  You can easily start your day with an intention, just as we do at the beginning of yoga class. 

What do you hope to give of yourself today?  What answers are you seeking today?  Where can you find peace today?  When we intend something, we are connecting to that higher power and we are believing in it.  We are believing and having unwavering faith that  something larger exists within us and for us.

The Intuitive Sixth Sense

I spoke briefly last week about what many deem our “sixth sense”.  It is our INTUITION.  People call it the “gut sense” –  likely because we feel a real visceral response inside our bodies.  Our muscles may contract or expand, our stomach may tie itself in knots or release, our hearts may beat faster or slow down.  All these responses give us some clue to the answers we may be seeking.  Whether it’s picking out what to wear on a given day or deciding whether to buy that home, we do always have some “sense” into what we are feeling in the moment. 

Oprah devoted last month’s O Magazine to the topic of intuition.  She talked about this innate power that is always available to us if we just listen.  It was interesting to read that all animals have an intuitive sense and prepare themselves to act on it, accordingly.  Humans are the only creatures that, despite hearing, seeing, and “feeling” the signs, actually choose to deny or ignore them.  Why is that?  I guess because we are conditioned in such a way since birth.  We are told what to do, how to act, who to marry, where to live, when to retire, etc.  The voices that usually take precedence exist outside of ourselves.  So much of how we live is dictated by our need to seek approval from others.  We all want to feel validated and worthy, so much that we may forget what is our own truthful path. 

So, what exactly is this intuitive sense?  Call it what you will, but I believe it is our spiritual intelligence.  It is God, the Universe, the Divine Spirit – whatever that power is for you.  And, I do believe that it always exists in us.  I have leaned on it and trusted it a lot in my life.  It didn’t always make rational sense to those around me, or for that matter, to myself, but somehow I knew it on a visceral level. 

There will be those times that you need to tune down the analytical, left side of your brain to give rise to the right, more intuitive side.  Believe in your intuitive sense.  Believe in your Spirit.  Believe that there is something within you that is greater than you can see.  Lean on it, trust it and use it to guide you.

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness:  When making decisions for yourself this week, no matter how small, take a moment to listen to your gut.  Can you learn to trust it?

The simple pleasures

The other evening, as I stepped out of my home to take a jog, I noticed a beautiful sunset through the corner of my eye.  It wasn’t just any sunset – there was a radiance of bright, orange hues illuminating the sky, and the sun appeared unbelievably large with a wavey outline over the horizon.  It was as though it was just sitting on the grassy area behind the trees.  I was only able to catch glimpses of the rays from where I stood, so I turned toward it and walked closer.  I had to cross a busy intersection and take a turn around the path to make it through the trees.  When I got there, just a minute or two later, it was gone.  The sun had set, and the sky immediately began to turn shades of pink and purple.  I was still in awe of how beautiful it had looked and was happy I got to experience it for a brief moment. 

How quickly moments pass us by.  When we pause and appreciate the beauty of a moment, we drink the juice of life.  Don’t be in such a rush.  I tell myself this, often.  Remember, to use the six senses we have (I consider “intuition” our sixth sense!).  What can you sense from your ability to see, hear, smell, touch, taste, and feel in the moment?

Being present means showing up….as in NOW.  It’s not about carrying around our heavy baggage from the past.  It’s not about constantly lunging forward to the next best thing.  It means NOW.  Take a moment today to pause……savor the simple pleasures.

Looking in the Rear-View Mirror

Having a rear-view mirror in our cars is crucial to our driving and our safety.  Per DMV guidelines, we should be shifting our gaze slightly upward and toward the right  into our mirrors every 2-4 seconds.  Although, this is an important habit to develop while we’re behind the wheel, is it really the smartest practice in life?  I pondered this the other day as I carefully veered into the next lane, assuring I had given the SUV behind me ample warning by turning on my indicator. 

I thought about how often we live by the visions in our rear-view mirrors.  After all, it is safe there.  What we see is familiar and clear…..we feel complacent, because we can view our surroundings with absolute certainty.  We make decisions by what we see from behind, or what we know of our past.  Just as a tail-gaiter creates some anxiety, so we speed up or slow down in life, accordingly, by the experiences we have had. 

Though many of us use our past as a GPS for navigating through our future, how can a future exist if we are constantly looking backward?  Just because we have been rear-ended before, doesn’t mean we drive through life afraid of pushing down the accelerator.   Maybe it feels easier to forever drive in the right-most lane, letting others pass us by.  Or maybe,  we are so cautious that we park ourselves in our comfort zone, afraid to get hurt again.  Will that really get you from where you are to where you want to be?  Too often, we become jaded by what has already happened in our lives.  It does not define us, nor limit us from going to the places we need to go in order to have a fulfilling life.  Be present.  Have faith in what lies ahead, even if you can’t see it yet.  Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul  series, talks about the headlights of a car allowing us to drive hundreds of miles in the dark.  We can only do that, because we trust the next 200 feet will continually be illuminated for us.  They will guide us to our destination. 

It’s important to look behind from time to time, and it’s even okay to allow what is behind us to shape some of our decisions.  But, also remember this:  Though we can’t see too far ahead, especially during a downpour of rain that may be gushing at our windshield of life, we might catch ourselves turning a corner on the road, barely in time to discover a rainbow.  We just have to be present and shift our gaze to what’s currently in front of us.

Deepali’s Piece of Wellness:  Are  you living in your past?  What can you do to speed up to your present?  Can you challenge yourself to be content with where you are and embrace it?  Think about 3 things you need to do this week to change the gears and live for today.  I guarantee I will be doing the same!