The holidays are a time where we focus on goodness and gratitude. But what happens after they pass? How can you keep the positive feelings you experienced during the holidays throughout the entire year?
Bringing more gratitude into your life is as simple as making the commitment to a 30-day gratitude challenge. Every day for the next 30-days, write down three to five things for which you are grateful. Try to add details to your entries. For example, if every day, you wrote down, “I’m grateful for my spouse, I’m grateful for house, I’m grateful for my job,” it will get boring quickly. Instead, write down the details of what you appreciate. Not only will this give you different things to write about every day, it will help you to get more into the feelings of appreciation.
Now, you may be asking, “Do I need to write it down? After all, I’m grateful all the time. I’m always saying ‘thank you’ to people.” The simple answer is “Yes,” it’s vital that you write it down. Think about how many more senses you use when you write. You FEEL the pen in your hand, you HEAR the words that you’re writing, you SEE the words, and you can EXPERIENCE the emotion of appreciation. Plus, writing it down gives you a record that you can go back to when you need a pick-me-up.
There are two types of gratitude journals you can keep. The first thing is the morning journal. Before your feet hit the ground in the morning, pick up the journal you keep on your bedside table and write down 3-5 things you’re grateful for. The cool thing about the morning journal is you can be grateful in advance. For example, you can write, “I’m so grateful for a successful meeting with my client today.” You’ll set a positive expectation of your day.
You complete the second journal in the evening. I call it a “wins” journal. Right before you turn off the lights at night, write five good things that happened during the day. After a particularly hard day, this is difficult to do. But by doing so, it reminds you of the good that happened. Research shows that by having a consistent gratitude practice, you’ll be awake less time before you fall asleep, you sleep more soundly, and you awaken more refreshed. (Makes you want to count your blessings instead of sheep, doesn’t it?)
If you want to take your 30-day challenge to the next level, consider the “Five ‘Thank You’s’ a Day Challenge. Every day for 30 days, experience thankfulness in any (or all) of these five ways:
- Write them down in a gratitude journal
- Verbally express your appreciation to someone
- Send a handwritten thank you note
- Write a letter of appreciation
- Meditate on the power of gratefulness for five minutes
When you tell someone, you appreciate them; you create a beautiful memory. When you write it down, you create a treasure. A handwritten note – even if it’s a smiley face on a post-it note – gives another person tangible evidence of your gratitude. The chances are good that they will keep your note in a special place so they can refer to it when they need a pick-me-up.
Gratitude works. The key is to make a commitment and get started today.