- Choose your format
It might be that you like to write your gratitude down and feel more in flow when you pick up a pen and a nice notebook or it may be that you prefer to find a suitable APP or use the notes APP on your computer or phone if you prefer typing. It doesn’t really matter as there is not a right way; just make sure it is something you are happy with. Once you have decided where to record, you can choose how to record. Some people write in sentences whilst others keep a bullet-pointed list. The key here is that the where and how should suit you. This is something you want to become a regular habit so make sure it is an enjoyable process for you.
- Choose Your Time
Once you have decided your format, it is important to decide when you are going to record your gratitudes. The evening is a lovely time to write about what you are grateful for during the day you have just experienced. Sitting down last thing at night and reflecting on the wonders of your day, means that you fall asleep feeling good and will probably find that it has a positive effect on your sleep patterns too. In addition, by focusing on positive things last thing before you sleep, you are helping to train your subconscious mind to find more positive in your life.
Some people advocate completing a gratitude journal first thing in the morning so that you start the day filled with the positives from the previous day. Again, by focusing on the positive, you will find that your mind notices more positives as you go through the day. Hal Elrod has gratitude as part of ‘The Miracle Morning’, his 6-part morning routine.
- Make it a routine
Once you have chosen your time of day, the key now is to be consistent. As with any new routine, it can be hard at first to make it happen every day but, you will find that after about month, you will miss it if you don’t do it. When you are starting out, you can trick your mind into taking on the new routine by doing things like leaving the journal on your pillow or where you know you are going to be last thing at night. You can also put a reminder in your phone or set an alarm. Push on through the first few weeks and soon it will be part of your normal daily routine.
- Choose three to five things
Set yourself a goal for how many things you are going to write about and stick to it. You can write in a bullet-pointed list, in sentences or in paragraphs, it is up to you. Just make sure you are consistent as this is key in setting up a new routine. Between three and five things seems a suitable number particularly if you are writing in sentences but remember that it has to feel right and manageable for you.
- Be specific
I think when I first started my gratitude journal, I was quite general and wrote mostly about the things that I had all the time like my health and a roof over my head. Whilst it is good to be grateful for those things, remember that part of the intention of this process is to re-programme your mind to notice more things to be grateful for. It is almost like you are tuning in your gratitude radar. So, when you have to look for new things every day, you become more alert throughout the day. After a while, you will notice yourself thinking “That can go in my gratitude journal” and perhaps even saying “thank you” out loud when you notice something positive in your life.
- Say why …
If you are writing your gratitudes in sentences, a nice touch is to write because at the end of the sentence and add why you are grateful for that things. An example of this might be:
‘I am truly grateful that I found a parking space easily today because it meant I got to my meeting on time.’
- Focus on People/ Areas you would like to improve
If you have an area of your life that you are working on particularly, like a relationship or a job you would like to feel better about, try focusing your gratitude on that area. For example, try noticing and recording the good things about that area. An example of this might be to focus on the behaviour of another person that you appreciate rather than homing in on the things about them which you do not like. It is amazing how quickly this can change how you feel about that relationship or area of your life.
- Use gratitude to raise your self-esteem
Human beings are not very good at noticing the good qualities in themselves. Many of us have been brought up not to praise ourselves for the fear of becoming ‘Big Headed’. However, the ability to see the good in ourselves raises our self-esteem and makes us nicer people to be around. If you have ever been in the presence of someone with high self-esteem you will know what a pleasurable experience it is. People with high self-esteem achieve more in life and tend to be successful in all aspects of their lives. Your gratitude journal can be a valuable tool to help you feel better about yourself and raise your self-esteem. Trying to make at least one of your gratitudes about you and notice how this improves how you feel about yourself. For example, ‘I am grateful for my motivation today because I wrote a new blog and sorted all my email’
I hope this blog will help you to get started with a focus on gratitude and start to feel the benefits of noticing the world around you in a more positive way soon. Please add your thoughts on gratitude or just some things you are grateful for in the comments or on Facebook.
If you want to read more about the power of Gratitude then click here to see my previous blog post about it.