After posting an article from a German magazine on the question of “does gratitude really work?” on my Facebook group page (and they came to the conclusion that, yes it really does contribute to success) I got inspired to share with you how I personally keep track of what I am grateful for. I want to testify that yes, expressing gratitude and becoming aware of what I am grateful for, really does work for me. So how do I do it? I keep a journal – simply because I can go back and read what was going on in my life at a certain time. I get a replay of what was bothering me, where I was making progress, and how I felt. That in itself is something I am grateful for, because if I didn’t have the journal to check back in with myself on, I probably would not remember all the good things that have happened to me either. More likely though, I probably would not remember or relate the cause and effect of things that have happened in my life.
There are plenty of options available to us these days, on how to keep track of what you are grateful for. When I googled for “does gratitude really work”, I got over 71 million hits back. You will need to find what fits best for you and your style, and for me it is keeping a journal
In case you were wondering what I write in my journal, let me share my structure with you. Note I don’t always have answers to all the questions I pose to myself, and sometimes the answer from one question is actually the same answer that I have to another question that’s ruminating in my mind – but if this process resonates with you, then feel free to copy this practice for yourself.
It is a process with structure, not like a diary where I capture what I ate or who I had a coffee break with. But it helps me to stay on track, and if you’re like me and create a habit out of this, after a while it gets to be second nature and I don’t think about it as a process or “how to do it” anymore. I have found, for me at least, that having a standard format makes it easier for me to not go off on a rant or beat myself up over things that I cannot change anyway.
So in my journal I have, of course, the day of the week and the date. The day of week is important for me, because I wanted to know if I am more tired or stressed on certain days than on others. Then this is the part that is my special process:
The process includes grouping the content into headers. I have an area that I’ve titled “Moments” and in this part I reflect on moments from the day were I was really aware. For example, a conversation experience, or an “aha!” insight. I note down whatever it was that had a bit of magic for me, maybe totally surprising or particularly touching, or beautiful. In this “Moment” my life was at its absolute best and I am particularly grateful for this particular moment on this day.
Then I have a part titled “Reflections”. In this part I add what happened today that I feel like I need to reflect on it a bit more, I want to think it over, or ponder over this topic. This is something that I want to give more awareness to, so I write it down to make sure that this pondering-stuff happens. In Reflections, I also note down any lessons that I learned on this day. Things like, where do I stand on progressing on my goals? What’s the big picture right now? What did I have to stumble across first before I thought to I ask myself “what is working for me” and what isn’t?
I have another part titled “Learnings” in my journal structure. This part is about where I am learning something new or learnings that I’ve taken away from things that I’ve implemented.
Then I give the day an overall rating on a scale of minus 10 to plus 10, whereby the rating scale goes into the negative for ego-driven days versus days where I am feeling my spirituality is driving my behavior. On the scale, a minus 10 means I’m living fully in the ego world and it sucks, and a plus 10 means I’m totally in synch with the universe and my soul. I write down next to the number what it was that made me take this number as a choice, too. That helps to keep it all real. I may be feeling like the day was horrible, whereby it turns out it was only a blimp on the radar screen and nothing to get excited about. Although I will admit that since I’ve been doing this journaling, these days are rare and far apart. All the way up to a plus 10 – which is what those exceptional days are like, when I sincerely feel complete reverence for unity and spirit and nothing in my life is being driven by my ego:
Now you know how I include a structured gratitude practice in my day. If you have a gratitude practice yourself, I’d love to hear how you are doing it! Please share what your process is, too!