Did you know that gratitude is good for you? Being thankful strengthens the immune system, helps you sleep better at night and reduces stress. When we take the time to be grateful for what we have, we feel good. But being grateful isn’t automatic nor does it come naturally to most of us. It’s easier to focus on what we lack (or want) rather than what we have. Many of us never feel satisfied, striving to get, do and be more.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Several years ago after hearing Oprah talk about the benefits of a gratitude journal; it prompted me to give it a try. At the end of each day I was to write down three things I was grateful for. For the first few nights it was easy. I wrote down the basics, such as being grateful for my health, my life, my family.
As time went on, it became rote and mechanical. I wasn’t getting much out of it. So I challenged myself to look for new and unique things to be grateful for each day. My outlook began to change. I was living with an expanded awareness; seeking out unique things I could add to my gratitude journal each night.
Whatever You Look for You Will See
Most of us work at getting through each day, sometimes without noticing much at all. If we notice anything, it’s the problems we have, challenges we face; the negative aspects of our lives. When we seek to confirm how bad things are, we will find evidence to affirm the negativity. When we focus on gratitude we open our eyes to possibilities and positivity.
Take Time to Stop and Notice
Living in gratitude requires a change in mindset; a determination to look for the good even when you are feeling down or going through a difficult time. I once read about a woman who committed to taking and posting a photograph every day for an entire year. Through the lens of her camera she saw what she might never have stopped to notice: The beautiful bird sitting in the tree, the branches covered with snow, the person waiting at the bus stop. The yearlong experiment enabled her to connect with the simple things in life that are often unnoticed, with renewed appreciation.
Focus on What You Have
I continue to direct my focus toward what I have rather than what I lack, and to be grateful each day. For some reason I stopped formally journaling some time ago. It’s funny how something that had such a positive and profound impact on me is something I stopped doing. I think it’s time to start a gratitude journal again. Perhaps you will join me. If you do, I hope you will let me know what happens as a result!