Earlier this month I shared some personal experiences and realizations that spurred my my goals for 2018. Reset + Refresh + Renew is a little snapshot of a bigger story. It’s the “why” in why I am focusing on self care this year, particularly through enriching my Body, Mind and Soul while also working to discover the connection between the three.
Today’s post can be nestled under caring for the MIND.
Gratitude as an Art Form
Life is hard. Life is unfair. Life sometimes leaves you confused, overwhelmed, and sad. Life can be lonely. Life is also beautiful. Life is joyful. Life is generous. Life is brilliantly full.
I am learning that being truly grateful is an art, and like any trade, it must be practiced. After delivering our stillborn son in 2016, my husband taking a new job and immediately leaving for 9 months of training, I found myself overwhelmed with the challenging aspects of life. I went into survival + mission mode. With my head-down, I did a great job keeping up with the “things to do” around me, but there was still an undeniable empty feeling. I had always been a faith-filled person, and I knew God, who was forever faithful, wanted more for me.
I can’t remember where the suggestion came from, but keeping a “gratitude journal” was brought up. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and keeping a journal was something I had done (on and off) since childhood. The challenge for me would be keeping up with it and finding things to write about, beyond the obvious.
To open my eyes to the graces in my life beyond the obvious, I needed help from a different perspective. I picked up a book by Ann Voskamp to help guide my efforts, help me see beyond the obviously beautiful, and recognize the less visible gifts and graces in my life.
What a game changer. With the help of this different perspective, I feel like my journey through this gratitude journal has become like a treasure hunt, constantly searching for and discovering more precious jewels (gifts and graces in my life). I have come to love this metaphor, because, have you ever seen what a raw, unpolished ruby or sapphire looks like? Unimpressive. The untrained eye would pass it up, but someone who knew what they were looking at could appreciate it’s value, polish it, and make it beautiful.
“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” Brene Brown
So to are many of our own blessings. Unimpressive and often times disguised as a pile of laundry, we have a tendency to overlook them or pass them up.
Keeping a gratitude journal was essential for my healing after losing our son, it kept my mind focused on the positives and God’s love for me and my family. Now, having just moved to a new state and not knowing anyone here, this gratitude journal again has been key in caring for my mind in a challenging phase of life.
Maybe I am getting old, but my morning routine as become one of my favorite, most looked forward to times of the day. I get up before everyone, make myself coffee, sit on the couch with my fuzzy blanket, look out over the canal in my backyard and using the book as a guide, meditate and write in my gratitude journal.
5 TIPS TO START A DAILY GRATITUDE JOURNAL
- Set a daily time for journal writing. I love beginning my day with writing, but I also have come to love ending my day with it as well.
- Everything counts! Everything from the weather to the view out your window to the glimmer of mischief in your child’s eyes.
- Depth over quantity. Don’t worry about trying to come up with a certain number each day, rather, elaborate and go into detail on things that bring deep feelings of gratitude. This practice will help expand your awareness.
- Write with love, joy and positivity. Focus on what makes you feel good and you would want more of.
- Don’t just go through the motions. Make a conscious decision to pursue happiness through this journal. The world is beautiful. Learn to experience it.
Bonus tip – I highly recommend using a book, devotional, or list of prompts to guide an ongoing gratitude journal. This helps you think outside of yourself and encourages you to write with more depth. Also remember, it has been said that it takes, on average, 22 days for something to become habitual.
I would love to hear how you practice the “art” of being grateful. Do you keep a gratitude journal? Meditate? What are your favorite ways to begin the day?