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KEEPING A DAILY GRATITUDE JOURNAL
"Acknowledging the good that is already in your life is the foundation for all abundance."
Possibly the single most powerful action you can take to greatly increase your daily happiness and satisfaction with your life is to develop an attitude of continuous wonder and gratitude.
When you become grateful for what you already have, you become more connected to your own sense of self and you begin to recognize and even seek out the things, experiences, and people that bring a sense of joy to your life. Further, you will find that the things that you express gratitude for will begin to appear with more frequency and to expand with seemingly little effort from you.
Keeping a gratitude journal will create a shift in your entire perspective. Each day (or however often you choose) when you write in your journal you will record, reinforce, and create a means for reminding yourself of the things that have given you authentic pleasure, comfort, love, laughter, or any other positive feeling.
Maybe you've thought of keeping a gratitude journal, but just didn't know how to get started. It's very easy. Just get a notebook and a pencil or pen and start writing.
The notebook in the photo above is of one of my gratitude journals - the one I just finished. I am offering you a look at my journal to show you just how simple a gratitude journal really is.
Don't wait to start because you can't seem to find the perfect book for keeping your gratitude journal. If you already have a beautiful book that is just the right color or has a textured cover or pattern on the cover that you love, that is certainly good. But if you don't, then just get started with what you have. You will see in the photo that the journal book I was using was just a regualr 5 x 7 spiral bound notebook. As I progressed through the book, I added a few floral stickers to the cover and back. Feel free to decorate your book but don't wait until you've decorated it, or until you have found just the perfect book, before you start your gratitude list. Let it be a work in progress.
I'll show you an example of the inside pages of my gratitude journal. As I make each entry, I write the date and the the words "I AM GRATEFUL" and then start a new line for each gratitude entry. When you write your entries, you can use this format or you can create a format that feels more natural to you.
It helps to set a target number of entries for each day (or week or however often you choose to write in your gratitude journal). I'll suggest starting with either 3 or 5 things that you are grateful for. When I first started my journal, I faithfully wrote five things almost every day. After some time, I made the shift to writing as much as I wanted each day. Keeping to a set number in the beginning helped me to develop a good habit of meditating on the day until I remembered five things that I was grateful for.
My personal style is to write brief entries that finish the statement "I am grateful..." You may prefer writing in paragraph style or even in a daily journal style.
If you feel stuck and not able to think of anything to write, then try the present moment. Look around. What is right in front of you? Are you grateful for your coffee mug? Your computer? The photo of your smiling child? Knowing that your husband is in the next room? I've even felt grateful for my favorite pencil.
"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."
You may also find inspiration in thinking of small, specific things. Did you see a beautiful flower? Do you really enjoy the color of the notebook you use at work? Did you hear a favorite song? Did your child say a cute word?
The opposite can work too - switching to a broad view of your world. Are you grateful to have smooth, well-maintained roads in your city? A house with a good roof? A car that gives you reliable transportation? A husband that treats you well? A healthy child?
Writing entries in your gratitude journal will get easier as you learn the art of daily gratitude. In fact, it is likely that this practice will become something so positive that you will look forward to getting your journal and recording your moments of gratitude.
Leafing through the pages of your journal when you are feeling a little depressed or when you are having a less than good day will most certainly help you to lift your mood.
Learning gratitude opens your perspective of the world. You begin to appreciate what you experience and what you already have. You understand yourself a little more. The details of your life are more vivid, more colorful, more joyful. You realize that in the past you have been absent-mindedly coasting through life, unaware and unappreciative of all the blessings and delights that surround you.
Now, find that empty notebook and begin your journey of gratitude.
"If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get."
~Frank A. Clark