I’m not the only stationery addict in the world (yes, and I am talking to all you others). While pencils, notebooks and textas serve to enrich my life I must admit I love a guided journal or six. When I came across a little number spouting the exploration of gratitude and mindfulness I knew I was onto a good thing.
Said journal took up position on my bedside table. My investment with this quiet little book involved capturing my thoughts first thing in the morning and just before I closed my eyes at night. It was a deal I was prepared to make with myself. Little did I know that this simple practice quickly began to highlight some pretty significant things within my life and not just that I love my family. Looking back over 40 days I can see I’ve had a silent but significant transformation.
I first saw gratitude at work on twitter about four years ago. Each night a woman I followed would give thanks for her day. It was inspiring in its simplicity and daily practice. But it was something quite positive on a social platform which is often known for its argumentative traits. I had shimmied around the practice of gratitude for a while, so when it came to my journal I jumped in with enthusiasm. So what were my highlights?
Understanding what was at the core of my happiness and well-being
My daily thanks centred on my appreciation for my partner, children and our pet (yes), but also our home, how we spent our time together and our collective health. A bit of a no- brainer maybe but underneath all of that was the reconfirmation that we had something working very well for us. Our approach to living as a family not only nourished our happiness but it gave us a great platform to head out into our daily “worlds” on the front foot. And if a day in those “worlds” didn’t go so well then there was sanctuary when we came back together at the end of the day.
Taking responsibility for the quality of my day
It showed me what I needed to do so my day was as great as possible. My guided journal asked me “What would make today amazing?” in the morning and then posed the question of “What would have made today even better?” at night. These two questions helped me piece together what I thought I wanted versus my actual experience of the day. This gave me some really clear messages about what I needed to do to improve the quality of my day, showing me some obvious changes which would make all the difference to my daily experience.
Clarity around time
The daily practice highlighted how I wanted to spend my time. When my day wasn’t as good as I had hoped I used the journal to look back and find those recurrent themes that boosted my happiness. For me, whenever there was less time commuting for work and more time for painting and writing, my day would rate as wonderful. Days where there was space to be spontaneous far out rated days with meetings, obligations and no quiet time. Looking at these themes it made me easier to make small changes to my days and weeks to incorporate more of the things I enjoyed.
Committing to direction
Reviewing the last forty days of journaling provided strong insights into my desired direction. My daily thoughts contained consistent small wishes about how I wanted to spend my time and what I wanted my life to feel like. In the beginning they were faint and I didn’t really notice them. Throughout the journal these whispers grew in their intensity and provided me with a type of roadmap to follow towards manifesting change. Once I commenced incorporating new habits and routines my direction became much more emphasised and helped me know what I needed to keep going.
Being positive means focusing on the good. When you focus on the good there is little room for drama. It parks negativity and gives ill-feeling or gossip the shove assisting you to move forward from set-backs. Looking for the best in each situation also improves relationships as well as your attitude to work or the mundane aspects of life. It enables you to cope better in a time poor, fast-moving world. It gives you a foundation where you are mindful about your life and it supports you to take responsibility for your life.
Taking up gratitude as a practice doesn’t have to be difficult. It takes about 10 minutes each day. It is an active move to embrace positivity and acknowledge the things which support us. When you begin to look for the good you find it in abundance and in forms which were previously less obvious.
Search the internet and you’ll find many articles about how gratitude aids your health and happiness but undertaking your own personal journey will dig up some very individual magic, like it did for me. Recurring themes, insights and messages seem to pop off the pages like a neon light. It’s a little bit of self-indulgence that costs nothing and pays back in spades. And it really does change your life.