I have a tendency to live in a bubble a little bit. I like the bands, movies, books and fashion that I like and often forget that these things don’t even factor into the lives of other people in the world. Apparently, not everyone wears hot pink sweaters with yellow tights or watches horror films almost exclusively.
So it didn’t occur to me during a conversation the other day that maybe not everyone is familiar with gratitude lists.
It’s simple: a gratitude list is just a run down of everything you’re grateful for. It can run the gamut from the mundane to very important issues. I write my list every night and try to aim for at least 5 things.
It took me a long time to get into it in earnest. I just didn’t really get what I was supposed to be writing. Some people’s lists that I saw were full of Big Things: their job, their family, etc. Some lists were really superficial and abstract sounding: a colour, a song, etc.
After a while, it became easy. I started thinking of it as more of a “what I’m into today” list. Maybe one day, I’m really into the delicious sandwich I made for lunch. Maybe a song comes on that turns the day around. If it made me smile or brightened my day – for whatever reason – it goes on the list.
I keep mine in a regular paper journal that sits on my bedside table. It’s a great way to recap the day, put things in perspective and honestly – it helps me sleep at night. I release everything from the day and can sleep soundly. Also, lately I’ve been using it to practice my penmanship. It’s terrible and I’d like it to be neater!
The list isn’t easy, every day. Sometimes I struggle with finding anything good in a day. Especially if something crappy happens near the end of the day.
Yesterday, for example, was one of those days. I got home in the evening and realised that something I had done – or rather not done – really disappointed some people. And I was disappointed in myself. Added to that was the stress I felt from work and the lack of sunlight we’ve had all week and I definitely threw myself a pity party.
I stared at the blank page of my journal forever until I finally just started the process of going through my day, from 6:30AM to midnight. When you break down the day and take stock, you realise that maybe the last couple hours have sucked, but there was definitely some good in it. Among other things, I got out of work on time last night and heard the news that Billy Bragg is playing here in April. See? Not so bad!
When you realise what you have, you focus on that, instead of what you don’t have. And you become grateful for the good things – even if they’re as small as loving your new sparkly manicure. I don’t think I complain or feel as negative as I used to. When I do encounter negative things, I’m able to let go of them quicker and move on.
I think everyone could benefit from keeping a gratitude journal. It doesn’t even have to look like a list in a journal. Maybe you draw little doodles of the good things, or take 5 pictures throughout the day. Maybe you make YouTube videos for everyone to see, or you record voice clips on your phone for just yourself. Try different methods – you’ll find one that fits.
If you already keep a gratitude list/journal/scrapbook – tell me all about it! How long have you been doing it for? How has it changed your life?
Be greatful and take care of each other!