Jump Start January 2017: Week 2: Day 2
Yesterday was about getting a physical and general pick-me-up from natural daylight, and today sees us shift our focus to the way we think. In particular it’s about how we choose to think about our day and the events in it. We’re going to try keeping a gratitude journal for a day, to see how it feels.
Keeping a gratitude journal is about shifting our attention to look more closely at the good things in our lives. It’s not about eliminating all negativity or anything along those lines, it’s just about taking a few moments each day to think about what we’re grateful for.
The human brain is wired to look for problems, and while we’re generally excellent at solving problems as a species, sometimes it’s nice to have a deliberate rest from the endless worrying and scanning. That’s where the gratitude habit can come in. The more often you do it, the stronger the effect.
It doesn’t mean that you have to pretend everything in the world or in your work or personal life is 100% peachy. It simply reminds us of what’s good, what’s working, what brings us great joy and small moments of pleasure, and it helps us to fix happy memories more firmly in our minds. It can be a useful way to remind ourselves of what matters to us most personally, and inspire ourselves to do more of it.
How to start a gratitude journal
At the end of the day today, take a few moments to relax and reflect. Now think about what you’re grateful for today. If you need a prompt, just think to yourself ‘Today, I am grateful for….’. It can be anything, such as an event or experience you’ve had during the day, or an aspect of any relationship that you have, anything you own or can see or hear, or something complex or simple that you like about yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything deep, profound, meaningful or spiritual either, so no pressure.
It can be tricky getting started for some people, especially if it’s been a long and arduous day or you have something that’s troubling you, but keep going. Try to come up with at least five things that you’re grateful for, and note them down. If you can manage seven or maybe ten, that’s even better.
You can write them down in a notebook, or your smartphone or tablet notes app, or try a free gratitude app. There are some very nice apps out there, one or two are free. Some of the paid apps will give you a free membership for up to ten days and then offer you the chance to subscribe. Many of the paid apps have the ability to add photos and clips to your diary, making the experience more immersive and attractive to scroll back through on days you might need a boost or some inspiration.
If the experience feels okay, keep doing it for a few days after today. It can take between one and three weeks to feel a change in perspective and a stronger sense of gratitude for most people, although the first list-writing exercise can be a pleasant few minutes too.
Where are you going to write out that list? I have a small Paperblanks notebook and pen on my bedside table and I love writing in it because it’s so pretty.
Here is one – thanks for the free flu jab. I wish someone could get a really effective cold treatment that I could take.
Hi Jackie, many people say that health is the first wealth, and I think it’s great to feel some gratitude for medical advances or just being well. Today I am grateful that I don’t have flu too.
Today I’m grateful for not having to take the tube to work. With the strikes in London today it was chaos for a lot of people. I was able to take my normal overground train & walk.
I’m also grateful to my neighbours for giving me some chocolate for Christmas which I’d hidden away in the top cupboard until tonight when my sugar cravings were high.
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