Wellness Matters 08.07.2022 Enhancing GratitudeThrough Journalling
Since August 16th 2021, exactly 326 days, I have kept a journal: to be precise a 5 Minute Journal readily available as an app. I pay a subscription which allows me to annotate, add photos, edit affirmations and reinforce positive intentions.
I have kept journals in the past but rarely finished a notebook, becoming weary when each page was filled with doom, gloom, and uncertainty. I would start new journals, intending them to be packed with witty, clever and thought provoking messages, but after a few depressing poems and meaningless entries, it felt like a dark, empty and very lonely place. I invariably ended up throwing a number of journals away, because I could no longer face the misery, but if I could, I would like to reassure my younger self that life did get better, and the pain did go away.
It is possible to flip our thoughts: CBT is a prime example of applying psychology to assist a person with challenging patterns of behaviour, including anxiety, worry or self harm. In order for CBT to be effective, not only does the client commit to change but actively practices it too.
Since my late 20s, I have been interested in how the brain works, and how we have the capacity to flip our thoughts, to shift from a quagmire of uncertainty and negativity towards a tranquil and accepting approach to life. I’m not talking about aiming for unrealistic ’happy ever afters’ every 24 hours, but an easy, steady approach to the life we have: looking for, and embracing acceptance and gratitude.
In 2021, when I was in the maelstrom of LinkedIn learning, marketing mayhem, content carousels, and coaching course conundrums, I was in danger of falling into a lake of lonely longing and overwhelm, from which rescue would be hazardous at best.
But, as has happened a few times over recent years, Brené Brown inadvertently donned the imaginary knight in shining armour persona, and presented an “A-Ha” moment, when discussing the importance of self awareness, especially relating to work, or relationships.
Since practising gratitude on a daily basis through the medium of the 5 Minute Journal, my life has inextricably changed, leading me further towards being the best version of myself. Perhaps in the past I have been guilty of assuming that gratitude was something only hippies, deeply religious people, monks or yogis might expound upon the fallen or the righteous. Not so. Gratitude is freely accessible to everyone. You see, this particular journal encourages writing down 3 things to be grateful for as the first entry of the day. It’s tempting to look at the blank page, frown, resort to negativity and think:
“I didn't sleep well last night, I’ve got a tonne of work to do, it’s the end of the month, money’s too tight to mention, and the cat has been sick on the carpet.”
However, as much as all of the above might be true, we can flip this and focus on what does feel good:
It’s warm in my bed;
Work might be interesting today;
Pay day soon.
The next section is goal setting (or positive intentions as I prefer to call them):
To get a good sleep, I will prepare for bed, get relaxed and read;
I will pace myself at work, and be realistic about what can be achieved;
Budgeting for next month is a priority.
What follows next is a section for daily affirmations. For example,
“I am enough.”
“I deserve laughter and love in my life by giving, and receiving from, others.”
“I love my life.”
It’s the repetition of affirmations which leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, then things begin to happen.
Making time to focus on what you are grateful for can empower you to manage challenges and tricky situations. Becoming self aware and learning to be grateful even when you don’t think you have anything to be grateful for, helps build resilience.
Only after recording highlights of the day, do you consider what might have made the day better.
The cat was sick, so call the vet.
In the grand scheme of things, that’s not so bad.
You see, the focus has been on what CAN be done, not on what did or didn’t happen at the start of the day. By the time you consider what could have been better, you have already focused on more manageable, and indeed enjoyable, events .
There are plenty of journals available and your own pen and paper is equally effective: it’s all about forming a habit which builds on gratitude. Journalling takes very little time, it does take practice (my key word for this year), dedication, just a few minutes a day, is worthwhile, and empowering.
Empowerment is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in managing one’s life, claiming one’s rights and influencing events to achieve a positive outcome.
When I deliver my Being Well sessions, I refer to the following definitions:
Wellbeing: Simply judging life positively and feeling good (NHS)
Wellness: Wellness is the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes, so that instead of just surviving you’re thriving
In addition there are 6 universally recognised Pillars for supporting wellbeing which lead to wellness:
Learning New skills
Giving to Others
Being Physically Active
Eating and Sleeping Well.
The key to a better life: Complain less, appreciate more. Whine less, laugh more. Talk less, listen more. Want less, give more. Hate less, love more. Scold less, praise more. Fear less, hope more.
Ingratitude can be cruel, hurtful, wholly preventable and says much about a person’s character.
When a person performs a selfless deed, however great or small, expressing gratitude with a heartfelt “thank you” goes a long way towards creating a safe space, a sense of community and belonging.
When was the last time you wrote a thank you note? When was the last time you went beyond a mechanical "thank you" to express authentic gratitude? We can enrich the lives of others and ourselves by making it a habit to express genuine appreciation for what others have done for us.
This week I am grateful for fabulous friends offering sound advice, much laughter, perhaps a bit too much wine, and unconditional love.
I’m incredibly grateful to live where I do, and take advantage of opportunities to be outside.
And I really do appreciate you for taking time to read this blog. Please feel free to share.
All previous blogs can be found on www.catchinglightwellness.co.uk/blog
What or who are you grateful for? Let them know.