In my first Blog Post, I talked about the importance of practicing gratitude, now I want to give you some tips on how to initiate a gratitude practice through journaling. Stress from work, friends, family, the 2016 election results, and mundane routines have a tendency to put us in a pattern of negative thinking that literally feeds on itself and creates more stress and unhappiness for us.
I’ll dive more into the Law of Attraction in future posts so stay tuned.
But for now, know that like attracts like. So, if we are in a crappy mood all the time.. Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to get back, a bunch of crap. This cycle of negativity is what leads us into irritability, more stress, insecurity, anxiety, depression and so so so much more. So, it’s important that we find a way to cultivate a positive attitude that can reprogram our thoughts to be dominantly positive, break the cycle of negativity, and start bringing some good stuff into our lives.
One of the ways I like to shift my mind out of the negative is by gratitude journaling. For me, this really works. I love to write, so this practice is a release for me. When I get to writing about things that make me feel good, I generate a feeling of gratitude. I find myself feeling SO blessed in those moments where I can sit back and really reflect on everything that I have.
How you decide to go about a practice like this is really up to you. I have a journal that is solely used for gratitude purposes. I use this journal to thank my creator for all that I have now, and all that I have coming because I know between my faith and my hard work it’s on its way.
Some people have a personalized journal, or use one that was given to them that evokes some type of emotion or sense of importance. I also, personally, like to write in the morning after my workout and breakfast. I set aside intentional time to write about my blessings. There are also a number of apps available or you could even start a word document, if that's better for you. But, there is something very satisfying about seeing the pen hit the paper and writing out your vision. Once you get into the habit of gratitude journaling, you will find endless benefits.
Positive words, ONLY: Don’t use this space as an area to vent out the negative. Stay focused on the good stuff. Do NOT fix your pen to write the words “don’t, can’t, won’t, not” - none of it. Use positive words, only.
Use Prompts: Writing prompts are a great way to help your gratitude practice and process come easier. I would aim to write about 5-10 things/day. Here are some of the prompts I use:
“I am so grateful for.."
I always feel good when..”
“God I just want to thank you for..”
“Today was amazing..”
Be genuine: Please don’t do this if it feels like a chore. If it’s too much of a hassle, we can find you something that is a better fit. Allow this to be something therapeutic for you. A release, that pours right back into you. The worse thing you can do with your gratitude practice is simply go through the motions. In order to really reap the benefits you have to cultivate the feeling of goodness and thankfulness. You have to make a conscious decision to make an effort to be more grateful. You need to be able to feel what you write and believe that it’s true.
Speak it into existence: I don’t use my gratitude journal just for the things I’m grateful for now. I write about the things I’m grateful for in advance because I know the potential of my mind and the power of my creator when we work together.
“I am so blessed in my business. I work with 8 clients per week to help them strengthen their yoga/mindfulness practice.
“I am so thankful for all of this opportunity through A Peace of Yoga. I work with the best and the brightest everyday to master my craft and become great at what I do.”
s/n: Both of these really are entries from my journal and both really did come true *Aint God Good?*
There’s no right time: While I do advise you to start writing down things that you’re grateful for in the morning, don’t limit yourself to that time frame. As good things happen to you throughout the day, write them down! I like to jot down a few feel goods before I call it a night too. It leaves me with a sense of peace and oftentimes I awake with that same sense of gratitude.
It’s okay to journal when times are bad too. Use this as a tool to help shift you into a better mood by reflecting on the things that make you feel good. You can’t be mad and grateful at the same time. It’s just how it works. So choose gratitude. Turn the negatives into positives - but only write in the positive tense. Does that make sense? So for example:
“My relationship didn’t work out.. (insert name) turned out to be a waste of time, but at least now I have time to focus on myself and know what I want.”
DO NOT waste your energy throwing shade in your journal.
Try this: I am thankful I have time to work on myself and I know that when the time is right I will attract the perfect partner with all the qualities I desire. Maybe elaborate from there on what that relationship will look like.. Have a little fun with it.
See the difference?
The key is to Stay. In. The. Good.
Don’t even acknowledge the negatives.
Elaborate: Depth over Breadth. So, I just mentioned elaborating on your journal entries. Explore what you really feel by going in depth on what you’re grateful for. This will help you in the genuine department. Make it clear what you’re writing about so that if you were to go back a year from now you could understand what you felt in that moment and maybe even regenerate that good feeling.
There is a big difference between:
“I am so grateful for my favorite student, Alex”
“I am so grateful for my favorite student, Alex. That boy cracks me up everyday. Today, I convinced him that he set the school on fire with his magic powers (we had a fire drill) and had him confess on video…
...this really happened, seriously .. watch the video below - this kid is amazing. I reflect back on this often for a good laugh.
Don’t rush: Give yourself time with this exercise. Don’t just jot it down and run out the door. Write it, absorb it, feel good about it.
Mix it up & get creative: Don’t put the same things everyday. Continuously find reasons to be grateful. I know people who use ticket stubs, pictures, receipts, etc. as prompts to reflect on. I personally like to keep a picture or two of my niece, Aria, laying around. She’s amazing too. Just take a moment to absorb all this cuteness I’m about to drop on you.
But this is corny..: SO! *eye roll* LISTEN, if you find something that makes you feel good and helps you to live a life you enjoy. You need to keep doing that. No One has to know that you do this, or that you repeat affirmations in your mirror, or that you say “thank you” to yourself with every step. This is a process between you and your creator. & if it’s a little weird, great. It’s good to step outside of your comfort zone.
Just Be Patient: Most studies will say it takes 21 days to form a habit so lets give it three weeks before we give up and say it isn’t for us. After all, according to my audience, we’re probably dealing with at least 20 something years of mostly negative thinking. It’s going to take some time for the brain to get used to this new way of thinking.
The goal here is to get to a point where your brain automatically defaults to looking for the good in every situation. You want to make gratitude what your brain looks for when it needs to feel good. Always searching for something positive, always pulling away something positive from every circumstance. What you will learn overtime is that your thoughts are like any muscle, the more you exercise them - the stronger they become. Positive thoughts reap positive results. Negative thoughts reap negative results. So, stay in the good. Happy journaling & as always, create an amazing day.
Learn more about positive affirmations in my eBook Mako Mindfulness: 9 Tools for Stress Management and please, please, please, let me know if you have any questions!
#MindfulMoment What has been the best part of your day so far?