I had mentioned in a previous post that my New Year’s resolution was to live with a sense of gratitude. To this end, I have started (and so far maintained!) a daily gratitude journal. Many of you would have heard about this practice. It is a commonly suggested tool to boost happiness, creativity and a general sense of well-being and other positive outcomes. Personally, it serves to remind me daily of what I have in life, be it good or bad. To be mindful of the everyday little things or big things, to consciously accept them and see their impact on my life.
This gratitude journal is slightly different from the usual kind where we list a whole host of things that makes us happy and contribute to our well-being. In this list, I make it a point to list some stuff that bothers/upset me and I always title it “Today I am grateful for”. Strange, isn’t it? At this point, I must give reference to the author who inspired me to do this. I picked up this practice from the book “Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning what you have into what you want” by Melody Beattie.
I won’t go into the finer details of what it was all about right now. Suffice it to say that the crux of the matter was to be grateful in Life no matter your reality. The message I took back was to embrace your life – including the parts we don’t like.
I have adapted this practice to suit my own needs and what I do is not exactly what was suggested by the book. I just got inspired by the book, that’s all.
The rule is for me to list down 3 things that I feel are topmost on my mind that morning, even things that have upset me, in fact especially things that bother me. No less than 3, but more is always ok. In the beginning, I admit it was terribly difficult to put down upsetting events under the title “Grateful”. Why should I be grateful for it; my mind struggled. But I persisted. I counter-act by finding the positive bit in each negative event. There are of course events in life where we will simply struggle to see the positive because it is that bad. But where possible, it’s good to try. Where it is not possible to counter-argue, I simply put it down on paper and leave it be – you don’t have to justify everything, some things just are the way it is… Mainly this practice will force me into a habit of positive thinking, where I will automatically find the positive in every part of life or to develop the habit of accepting realities over which I have no power.
This is also a way for me to pen down all the various thoughts that buzz around in my head and are a constant source of irritation. I have recently come across repeated suggestions that writing is good for your well-being. It was as if the Universe was telling me to go back to blogging! It just kept bugging me until I went back to it. I have to say that I do feel better when I write down all my thoughts and emotions, it’s like my mind is lighter!
But not everything I write make it to the published site, of course. Sometimes I start a post and I will be thinking – who wants to read this rubbish?! It sounds so preachy and boring…. Nevertheless, the process of writing for one’s own sake is what matters. It is the conversation that you can have with yourself without having to talk out loud and scaring everyone!
Now… how did I get from gratitude to writing to talking to myself? Oh yes, it is about feeling gratitude for life and writing it down physically so that it is in black and white and feels more real. As you see your gratitude lists growing, the sense of peace grows. You know you are putting your hopes and fears out there. The process may not change your situation, but it slowly changes the way you view it and gives you the strength and wisdom to handle it all.