As a self-proclaimed over-organized planning enthusiast, I am fighting a constant war with myself to live more in the moment, and to really see what is around me and appreciate those moments as they are happening. One practice that has helped me improve this is keeping a gratitude journal. Gratitude practices can take different forms, but for me a journal works the best. Keeping a gratitude journal is a simple practice that includes listing experiences/people/places or things that you are grateful for each day. By doing this each day, I have found myself noticing and appreciating the little moments (both good and bad) throughout my entire day.
Having this practice has really helped me see the good in a otherwise negative situations. I remember the day after my son Shane broke his arm, I had so many entries into my gratitude journal. Instead of the “whoa is me” outlook on the less than ideal situation, I wrote things like “I am grateful we have easy access to medical care”, “I am grateful he did not fall on his head”, “I am grateful that he wasnt in pain overnight preventing him from sleeping”. It’s simple, but it really shifts you perspective on the events in your life. Your bad day might not be that bad with the right perspective.
Here is how I build this practice into my day:
Every morning, my alarm goes off at 4:45am. I head out for my morning walk with the dogs. When I return, I meditate for ten minutes and then open my gratitude journal. This practice is just a part of my morning routine now. No questions asked. I just do it, and it takes less than 2 minutes. In the journal, I date the entry and then I input 3-5 bulleted sentences for the day listing what I am grateful for. Some mornings, the entries are simple: “I am grateful for Friday” which has made far more entries that I am proud to admit. Other entries, like the day after Shane broke his arm, are much longer and detailed. If I am struggling for an idea, i’ll incorporate a theme. For example, in November each day I picked a member of my family and listed why I was grateful for them.
I’ve had this gratitude practice for roughly six months now, so it’s still relatively new. Recently, I’ve tried to incorporate a similar practice into the bedtime routines with my kids. Instead of writing it out, we talk about the things that the are grateful for which for a six and four year-old can be materialistic at times, but at least it’s got them thinking. My hope is that when they are having tough days they can turn to this practice to shift their mindset and find the good in every situation.