My gratitude journal started out as a quick list every night. I just got in the habit of listing 5 things for which I was thankful each night before bed; often it was the same, or a similar list, each time. Husband, daughter, a roof over our heads, and the last two varied, but it was a less than fascinating list.
Then I started putting some effort into mixing things up. I didn’t just say I was thankful for my husband, I got specific and mentioned a quality or something he did or said. Same with my daughter – and many other frequent flyers on my gratitude list. Soon, my nightly entries morphed from a quick five-word-list to an accounting of my day that was framed around an expression of gratitude.
I’ve kept a journal for most of my life, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but once I added the gratitude element, the journal took on a different, more energetic and pro-active tone – it’s my autobiography written through the lens of gratitude.
I found myself looking for things throughout the day, taking note of things – ooh, that’s going on my list tonight!
There have been times when the world just falls apart around me, and yet still I can always find at least five things.
I resisted this idea for a while – it’s essentially dishonest, I thought, to disregard everything that’s going wrong. But that’s where I was wrong. It is not a matter of disregard.
A few months ago, my husband had a medical crisis while he was in Istanbul. It was a stressful and terrifying experience, but the relief I felt once we got him from the airport to safely admitted to the hospital was palpable. To acknowledge that relief underscores, rather than dismisses, the significance of that crisis.
This process doesn’t disregard the darkness, it looks for the light. My gratitude practice exercises the sames skills I use to find solutions to problems. I imagine there are worse mental pathways to make habitual.
And it is becoming a habitual practice.
Not to long ago, I took to my journal ready to whine and complain about everything that was going wrong, but out of habit, I had written the word “Gratitude” at the top of the page.
I couldn’t fill a page with whining when it had the word gratitude at the top. So I decided to go ahead and do my gratitude list first, and whine later on another page.
I never got around to whining. That’s when I knew my gratitude practice was really working.
As we head into the month of Thanksgiving, and tonight especially, there is so much for which to be thankful, and it does seem to be the topic of the hour. Today, among so many other things that bless my life, I am thankful for my gratitude practice.
I know that the idea of a gratitude practice is starting to gain some popularity. Anyone else out there make a practice of it? Any thoughts?