You know what gratitude is, but here’s the definition to remind you – Gratitude or thankfulness is the acknowledgment of a benefit that you have already received or will receive. Many religions have had gratitude practices for centuries but it has only become a psychology topic of interest since the early 2000s.
Why should you need to be grateful? Well, being grateful means stopping and being mindful and focusing on the things in your life that you are happy about and grateful for. Doing this provides a sense of calm and generates feelings of happiness and helps remind us that, while we always want more, and while we are forever chasing our tails in the great rat race, life is actually pretty good when we think about it and what we already have. Oprah Winfrey says it well in this quote:
Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.
This is so true! I could write about the power of positive thoughts and the psychology behind it but that’s a whole other blog series that I will write about later. You may have already read books by thought leaders such as Dale Carnegie, Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy, Dalai Lama, Jim Rohn, and Rhonda Byrne and you may have some understanding of the power of positive intent. We know that constantly thinking negative thoughts will focus our intentions on negative thoughts which will in turn attractive more negative events into our lives. While I know this myself and believe in this concept, I often catch myself out thinking negative thoughts and risking being caught in this bad cycle.
One of the keys to stopping these thoughts is to stop and be grateful. Doing so helps put those negative thoughts away and instead you will start to focus on positive thoughts and you will manifest good things for yourself. If you are feeling skeptical about this idea, stop and think for a moment about a day that started off with something bad happening such as a flat car battery when you were leaving for work. How did the rest of the day go? Did you stay angry for the rest of the day and have more bad things happen? Or were you grateful that you actually own a car and that these things happen some times. Depending which of these routes your thoughts took, your day would have gone very differently. Some days I have had a bad start and got caught in a real rut as the negative thoughts spiral out of control. Bad start to the morning – then I feel mad or grumpy – then i get frustrated with the kids because they are running around shouting – then the wife asks me why I’m yelling at the kids and I start an argument with her – then I honk at someone in traffic who didn’t leave on the green light within 1 second – then I get into a heated debate with a colleague at work – then I spill coffee in my lap. And so on. These types of events can be the result of negative thoughts such as – “I’m having a really crap day”.
So how do we incorporate a gratitude practice into our lives? There are many ways but one I have started doing recently is to have a gratitude journal. I’m not a big writer but I do love tech so I decided to record my gratitude notes in my phone. I use an app called Day One to record my thoughts – you might be familiar with it. Its a brilliant journalling app that allows you to record entries, add pictures and tags and geotag photo locations. I use it to record interesting events such as family trips, birthdays and fun nights out. The app isn’t free but then the great apps never are. I highly recommend you spend the $5 on this app – you won’t regret it.
I’ve been using DayOne for a couple of years now. I love looking back at the end of the year to see what I did that year. That in itself makes me feel grateful! Below is a screenshot of the DayOne mobile app showing examples of journal summary entries.
To create a gratitude journal in the app, simply use tags – it’s that easy! Below is my entry for today. I have added a #gratitude tag (or can select from a list of recently used tags). The really nice thing about doing this is that if you are feeling a bit down or have negative thoughts creeping in, just open DayOne, select the gratitude tag and there are all your gratitude posts. Reading those will turn around those bad thoughts pretty quickly!
While I do enter gratitude thoughts some days, I’ve decided I need to make this a habit. So it’s time for an awesome challenge! The challenge is 30 days of entering a gratitude journal entry. I’m starting today. Are you in? Great. This really is an awesome challenge as it will only take a couple of minutes a day and you will feel awesome at the end of 30 days when you realise all the things you were grateful for in the month just gone. Share your thoughts in the comments below and let us know what you are grateful for today. And thanks for being part of the awesome40s community! I’m grateful that you are spending time out of your day to visit our site and read the articles. Have an awesome day!