I am a grateful person. I don’t generally take the things that people do for me, opportunities that reveal themselves or go in my favor or even the daily serendipitous occurrences for granted. My life has had its share of twists and turns and more ups than downs. Despite my attitude of gratitude, I’ve never thought to keep a gratitude journal. Over the past few years, I’ve scrolled past someone mentioning a gratitude journal and thought, oh yeah, that’s a cool idea. And that’s where it ended.
Writing down your blessings and the “little” things for which you are grateful can be a cathartic (mental, emotional, spiritual) fitness/wellness routine. Research shows that gratitude reduces stress, blocks toxic emotions and improves psychological health.
Leading gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons, conducted studies on the link between gratitude and wellbeing. The studies undeniably confirm that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression. So, why not carve out time in your day to reflect and write down the things for which you are thankful(?).
Emmons suggests, “Setting aside time on a daily basis to recall moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable life theme of gratefulness”.
Write it Down
Most times, it’s the big stuff that gets all the attention: I’m grateful that my SUV stopped just before it crossed into oncoming traffic after I was broadsided. But what about all of the “little” things? My son’s flights landed safely. I’m grateful. The glass in the street that I didn’t see before driving right through it didn’t cause a flat tire. I’m grateful. I’m grateful for waking up this morning in my right mind. You know, those “little” things. I’m sure we could all list at least two things a day for which we are grateful. Things that, had they not happened, would have made for a challenging day or experience. Or something that caused you to smile and, even if for a moment, allowed you to exhale a bit of stress and inhale some peace.
It’s unfortunate that this gratitude journaling revelation didn’t come earlier for me. There are so many things for which I’ve been so grateful over the years and my memory is limited to recalling the details of but a few. I know better so, this year, I am challenging myself to do better.
In my reimagined life, chronic pain and poor sleep quality are my current reality. Studies say that gratitude is related to a 10 percent improvement in sleep quality in patients with chronic pain. As I prepare for yet another procedure on my shoulder, that 10 percent sounds great to me!
Every day, in the still of the morning, before getting started with the hustle and bustle of the day, I will write in my gratitude journal. Just five minutes. It’s such an amazing way to begin the day. Full of gratitude, good vibes, and more than enough positive energy to steam the day ahead.
If you are grateful for the many blessings that fall upon you day after day, deserving or not, get in the habit of writing them down. A year from now, you’ll be able to see not only how His grace and mercy covered you; but also how those “little” things are really big things in the grand scheme of things.