The best time to start loving your life is now. And the best way I’ve found to love your life is to keep a journal. This journal is not for recording events of the day, though of course you can do that if you want to.
The purpose of a gratitude journal is to write five things you are grateful for everyday. This will instill a sense of gratefulness in yourself. The Law of Attraction says that we attract what we think about. So if you want to have more in your life to be grateful for, start being grateful today!
1. Get a journal
The first thing to do is get a notebook. You could also use the electronic sort, like your laptop or PDA. I prefer a paper and pen approach to writing a journal as I’ve found it to be more therapeutic. You may want to start with a simple, cheap exercise book.
My journals used to be basic, black, unromantic things. Now I spoil myself with fabric-bound, high quality books. I also write with a fountain pen as it feels good. And the whole point of this exercise is to feel good about yourself and your life. If you’re new to journalling, just get something basic or something you like.
2. Set aside a few minutes a day
A good time is just before you go to bed at night. By this time the events of the day would have unfolded and you can look back on the day to pick out things you are grateful for. It helps to sit by yourself in a quiet place so you can think in peace. You could spend one minute, or one hour, just thinking about your day and all the things that went well.
Alternatively, you could journal first thing in the morning, before your busy day starts. While you may have to make more effort to remember events of the previous day, it is a good way to start your day.
Sometimes I skip journaling at night because of sleepiness or other reasons. In that case I simply do it the next morning. The thing is not to beat yourself up if you miss a day or a week or even a month. Just start again when you remember. Once you’ve journalled consistently for 30 days, it will become a habit and you won’t have to make a big effort to remember anymore.
3. Write five things you are grateful for each day
Here are some samples:
“Today I am grateful:
1. For a wise and loving Mum who takes an interest in my life, listens to me when I need to talk, and shares her wisdom.
2. To have spent time with my two nephews watching Tarzan together, with them leaning against me affectionately.
3. That I resisted the temptation to buy a chocolate ice-cream at the 7-11 nearby, and came home to munch on an apple instead.
4. For a good day at work, where my talents are put to good use, and my time is used meaningfully to benefit other people.
5. For R’s friendship, keeping in touch with me through text messages just to ask how things are with me and make sure I’m ok.”
Your five points may each be a word long, or a whole paragraph long, or a mix of the two. There are no hard and fast rules. Write anything that comes to mind.
Some days I write more than five points, but I keep to a minimum of five because no matter how badly a day goes, I can always find five things, even if it’s just “I’m alive” or “I have a job.” Five is a small enough number to do daily, but a large enough number for your mind to understand that there are many things to be grateful for.
4. Count your blessings often
I heard a recommendation that you should review each day’s entry the next morning, to start the day on a good note. Personally I don’t have the discipline to open my journal in the morning just to read it. I usually open it only when I have something to write.
Sometimes when I’m writing in my journal, I flip back through the pages. I do this perhaps once a fortnight, and more often if I’m going through a low or directionless phase in life. The uplifting effect of reading so many things in your life that you are grateful for can be understood only if you do this yourself.
5. Show others your journal
My journal is very private because I write all my thoughts in it, not just the five daily things. So I don’t actually allow anyone to read the journal. But I do take it out and show friends the pages with my daily gratitude lists. Sometimes I read out the specific points that include them, so they know I am grateful for them.
The reason for showing others is to bring some joy into their lives from knowing that they are appreciated. It also makes your gratitude ‘real’ by sending these lists out into the universe. When the universe (or God) knows you value your blessings, it will send you even more. Sounds esoteric, but it works. Try it!