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!

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Attitude of Gratitude

Each night before I go to bed, I silence my mind and give thanks for the events of my day and also for the good that is yet to come.  For a long time, it was harder for me to give thanks for the moments that had been particular challenging on a given day or for the situations in which I had struggled.  Going down the “why me” path was always so much easier and required little to no attention.  Just as the pathway to a knee-jerk reflex does not involve looping through the brain, so is the incessant, negative self-talk we give ourselves.  The only way to break the cycle is to be present (as we discussed last week) and be grateful

Feeling gratitude is one of the kriyas that can truly send your wellness quotient flying, not to mention change your life in the process.  There has been a lot of research showing that those who practice an attitude of gratitude have a more positive outlook on life, improved social connections, and better sleep patterns.  Dr. Robert Emmons from the University of California, Davis (my alma mater!) is currently developing a tool to measure the level of gratitude people show in their lives. 

So, why should we adopt an attitude of gratitude?  I came up with 5 of my own reasons:

1.  What we focus on, multiplies.  When we focus on what is going right in our lives, we find that our lives actually begin to feel quite abundant.  We find so many things to be thankful for, just by taking a few minutes to re-focus. 

2.  We feel happier.  Who wouldn’t be happy when they focus on what they have, not what they lack. 

3.  It reminds us of what’s important in life.  It’s harder to complain about your work, when you are grateful for having a job.  It’s harder to feel sorry for yourself, when you are grateful for having a family that loves you.  It’s harder to be upset about home renovations, when you are grateful to have a home not affected by a tsunami. 

4.  It allows us to appreciate those around us.  It’s so important to acknowledge the people in your lives.   Thank that stranger for letting you have the parking spot.  Compliment your best friend if you like her outfit.  Tell someone why you’re grateful to have them in your life.  It will make their day….and yours!

5.  We are able to exude a positive vibe.  When we display gratitude, it makes others want to jump on the bandwagon and think about what they are thankful for also.  It is infectious, like laughter.  People are attracted to it and are more apt to pay it forward. 

To sum up, let me just say this:  Be grateful for what you have, be grateful for what you don’t have, be grateful for what is coming your way, but most importantly, be ever so grateful for where you are in your life today.  If you can rise up to that space, you will literally shift the vibration of your life.  ***Check back Wednesday for techniques to help you exercise your gratitude muscle!

Deepali’s piece of wellness:  This week, start and end each day with at least 5 things that fuel you with gratitude!