One of the first steps to becoming your best self is to develop a habit of being thankful for what you have.
It is so easy as we age to dwell on what we can’t do, what we’ve lost or what ominous events might lie ahead. How many seniors do you know who fill your ear with nothing but negative energy? As someone recently lamented, “With my sore foot, I can’t wear my high heels on the cruise!” I wanted to say “Wow! You’re going on a cruise at eighty-five?”
A manageable way of developing a habit of gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. When we consciously focus on what is positive in life, we come to appreciate what we have instead of what we don’t. Keeping a gratitude journal creates a mind-set of thankfulness and changes the quality of our life. It is a powerful catalyst for change.
I am often told when speaking about journal writing, “Oh but I can’t write.” What a crock that is! Everyone who is literate can write. We were conditioned by schooling to believe that written language is about grammar and spelling and style. This may be true for formal purposes, but that’s not what a journal is.
The writing you do in a journal is a creative process – no one will check your spelling or correct the grammar. The point is, that the act of writing is one of the best ways to clarify your ideas and reveal deep emotions. Research has shown that keeping a gratitude journal has the power to change your attitude from “the glass half empty” to “the glass half full”.
There is no recipe for keeping a journal. Having said this, I offer some suggestions for those who lack the confidence or experience to get started.
- Select a blank book and decide when and where you will do your writing. In the beginning write an entry every day. This is important if you are to establish a habit of gratitude.
- How you write is up to you. Like any skill it improves with practice. You may begin by making a list but over time you will expand to express more complete thoughts.
- What you write is personal. Pause from your busy day and just look. What is there in your environment, your family, your circumstances at the moment for which you are grateful? Pick a focus. Give thanks. Jot down your observations. It’s as simple as that.
Changing a mind-set is no easy task but, by making a conscious effort every day to record something for which you are thankful, you will find that in time it becomes a way of thinking. After a long period of keeping a written journal I tend now to simply give thanks as the moment arises. My journal writing has evolved into a means of understanding my life and what it is I am meant to become. I call this my transformational journal which I will talk about in a later post.
Something to Think About
A good friend, having edited my doctoral thesis commented, “You are living proof, Susanne, that you can get a doctorate and still be at the invented spelling stage!”
Moments of gratitude can change your life in profound ways.