My family has a tradition to go around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and say what we are grateful for from the past year. We all hold hands and take turns sharing our joys and blessings. My nephew usually just says he’s grateful for pizza, but most people say they are grateful for friends and family, careers, our homes, and time that we have with each other. There are usually a few tears as we deeply feel how much we love each other, and as we remember the people that are no longer with us.
Thanksgiving may be over, but an attitude of gratitude is in season all year long. One of the most powerful things in the world is to be grateful for all of the positive things in your life. At different points in my life, I have used a gratitude journal to keep me focused on what’s really important. I am a strong believer in the concept that whatever you focus on, is what grows in your life. If you focus on the negative, the negative grows, if you focus on the positive, the positive grows.
The challenge I present to you is to focus on gratitude for the next 21 days. Here are some ideas for focusing on gratitude.
- Sit down with your family each day at dinner and take turns saying what you are grateful for from that day.
- Tell someone each day (could be the same person or a different one each day) why you are grateful for them.
- Thank the people that serve you for helping you out. This could be the grocery store clerk, the waitress, the bank teller, anyone that does something for you.
- Write a thank you note to someone that you appreciate. A handwritten note is great, but an email will do.
- Call someone you haven’t spoken to in awhile and tell them why you are grateful for them.
- Tell the people that you work with why you are grateful for how what they do makes your life easier.
I challenge all of you to keep a gratitude journal for 21 days. Nothing fancy is needed here. Just get a notebook of some sort, and start focusing on gratitude. This may be difficult at first, and you may not know what to write. That’s OK. It gets easier. At Thanksgiving we tend to think about the big things we are grateful for, a gratitude journal is a chance to notice all of the little things.
A gratitude journal tends to be written at the end of the day. Before you retire at night, think of all the things that happened throughout your day. Write down all of the things that you are grateful for. If you can’t think of anything that happened, you might even write down something that didn’t happen. For instance, “I’m grateful that I didn’t have to do any laundry today.”
It might also help to focus on specific areas each day. Thing of the major categories in your life, and write about what you are grateful for in each area. An example would be:
- My husband went to work late today so I got to spend the morning with him
- My dog is getting more and more used to going outside at our new house
- My son said the words “eight” and “nine” while we counted to ten today
- My family: My mom helped out today while we finished up moving to our new house.
- My job: Today was Saturday so I took the day off to enjoy our new home.
This method really helps on days when for instance, I might be frustrated with my husband, and I can refocus on why I am really grateful for him.
I have to admit that I haven’t kept a gratitude journal in a long time. I’m looking forward to doing this again, and want to hear from you about how things change in your life when you commit to an attitude of gratitude.