The gift of gratitude!
What if we loved everything about our life while striving for more? What if we could find a way to be happy with what we have while working toward bigger and bolder dreams? Guess what? You can!
There is absolutely a way to love what you have while working toward having more. Because here is the honest truth. What you have now you likely wanted more than anything at one point in your life. So why aren't we ever thankful for it anymore? Things like being married, having kids, buying the house. We forget how much we wanted all that stuff. It's human nature to want more. To want bigger and better things. That is why it's so important to remind ourselves of how good we already have it. This is when gratitude comes into play.
If you've followed me for awhile you know that I credit gratitude for being the number one reason that helped turn me from a negative Nelly to "The Hopefulist". I finally decided to give a gratitude journal a real go. To go all in and give it my all. And it literally changed my life.
I had kept a gratitude journal years before without any real results. It's because I had been doing it wrong. Yes, you can do it wrong and it's what I hope to help you avoid. I was treating it like a chore. When I did remember to do it I was annoyed that I had to sit down and fill out the darn thing. I didn't take it seriously. Because here's the thing, you have to actually feel the gratitude of what you are writing down in order for it to work. Yes, I'm serious! Otherwise it won't work. And it only takes about five minutes a day. You can commit to five minutes a day for more happiness and fulfillment, can't you?
Here are the guidelines I use. I write it down at the same time everyday. Maybe it can be first thing in the morning for you or right before bed. Or maybe after you get the kids off to school and have a moment. Maybe you can do it when you get to work everyday or on your lunch break. The point of trying to do it at the same time everyday (but it's better to get it in whenever you can rather than not do it at all) is to look back over the past 24 hours. What has happened in the past 24 hours that you are grateful for? I encourage you to look for the simplest things. Big things are okay too but you should try not to repeat the same things over and over as that defeats the purpose of setting you up to look for more things throughout the day to be grateful for. Maybe you hate your job but it gives you the money you need to feed your kids and maintain the house and just maybe you got a compliment on your shoes as you were in elevator on the way into the office today. It's summer so does that mean you have a garden full of flowers or vegetables you can eat? That's something to be grateful for. Longer days and warm temperatures! What about all the stuff you meticulously picked at for your home at one time. When is the last time you really looked around your house and appreciated how you made it look.
In my opinion the use of a gratitude journal has three main benefits. The first is it gives you a chance to relive the moment you are grateful for. My journal is filled with different things about my dog. Things she does or noises she makes or just how damn cute she is. Often I will write something down like Tucker snoring this afternoon which gives me a chance to relive that moment and it puts another smile on my face. The second benefit is it gives you the opportunity to look for things throughout the day to be grateful for. You will start to see things and take note of it to write down in your journal later that day or the next day. Like seeing a beautiful bird on a fence post. And thirdly, it will literally change the way you think about things. Instead of being resentful for things that you have to do it starts to put your focus on why you are doing those things in the first place. Cooking and cleaning in preparation for a family gathering. Yes, it's a lot of work but it's almost always worth it to be surrounded by those we love and to make memories together.
My husband and I have a standing joke about when we have parties at the house. I love having parties. I love hosting people at the house and sharing the blessing of the amazing home we have in an amazing location. But inevitably as I am running around like crazy trying to make sure everything is ready I tell my husband; "no more parties!" He always laughs and says, "okay". Because he knows I don't mean it. It's just that moment when I feel overwhelmed at everything I have to do but when it's over it's always worth the work. Are you getting what I'm saying? Are you smelling what I'm selling? I hope so.
But one of the best benefits of keeping a gratitude journal is to realize that we take so much for granted. If we have food, shelter and clothing we honestly have more than the majority of people in this world. We need to stop taking that for granted. We need to realize how blessed we are to just have been born in this country and how much wealth surrounds us here. We grow up with so much and with so many options we forget that many people don't have these options.
I think back to my first car. It was a bright yellow Ford Pinto. It was given to me by my mother and man, I hated that car. I didn't want to be seen in it. I wanted a cool car like my friends have. But I look back now and realize that I should have just been grateful to have a car. But in my selfish, adolescent mind I just assumed everyone got a car. Nope, not even close. I could have had to take the bus to wherever I was going. That would have been way worse than a bright yellow, uncool car. We have to stop thinking that everything that we have is just a given. It's not. And appreciating these things that we typically take for granted will help to put things in perspective making us realize how much we already have.
I'm currently hosting a gratitude challenge. If you would still like to join just let me know. You can totally catch up. I'm telling you...it's a game changer. I hope you will consider joining. Meanwhile, start that gratitude journal. Get a super cute notebook and a fabulous pen and write those things down. It's also fun to look back at the things you write down. It takes five minutes a day and is so worth it. You are so worth it.
If you like this episode please leave me a review on the platform you listen through. Or share with your friends. Tell your friends about the gratitude challenge too. Everyone can use a little gratitude in their life.
Hope you have a fantastic week. Now go on out there and be badass! You know I'm here, cheering you on!