Psychology, religion, and new-age popular culture from Oprah to Gretchen Rubin to Deepak Chopra all agree that cultivating gratitude can make you feel more happy and open you up to receiving more of what you want in life. Keeping a gratitude journal has been on my month challenge list for several years. But it always felt like something I should do, rather than something I wanted to do, the spiritual equivalent to getting my teeth cleaned.
For some reason, in the last month I felt compelled to start one.
I felt like I was spending a lot of my energy looking ahead, focusing on what I don’t have and where I want to be rather than what I do have and where I am. Honoring all the blessings I have in the current moment would make me more engaged and appreciative of all the good in my life. It’s also a way of saying to the universe, “thank you, give me more of that please.” We all like direction, the universe included.
A gratitude journal was also another way to consciously get in touch with what is important to me. A main reason I started this blog was because I was feeling a little lost and disconnected. I wanted to use this space to reconnect with old and discover new passions and become clear on what is important to me.
I’ve always approached this by brainstorm all the things you love doing. It occurred to me recently that another way to find what nourishes me is to pay attention to the things that make smile, lift my heart, and give me joy – and be thankful for them. Another gentle nudge to the universe to send more of that my way.
November felt like the perfect month for keeping a gratitude journal, being the month of my (tied for) favorite holiday, THANKSgiving. On November 1st, I was thinking about what my one thing would be and where I would keep track of it (one of the keys to keeping resolutions), when I realized – why don’t I just take a picture of it? Easy!
I’ve tried to keep a gratitude journal before, and petered out after a few days. It just felt like another burden in a busy life. However, the idea of taking a picture every day made me feel inspired. At the end of the month, I would have a beautiful collection of images of things that I am grateful for. I love the photo-a-day journal I keep while I’m traveling, both because it forces me to be more in the moment while I’m there and because it’s a great momento looking back.
The next morning, another idea struck – why don’t I invite others to join me in keeping a photo gratitude journal? We can share our pictures online to see what everyone is grateful for. Collectively we could create a beautiful mosaic of gratitude for the small and large things in our lives, and hopefully be inspired to see things in our lives a different way – with a perspective of thanks, blessing, and awe.
Join the challenge!
It’s not too late! For the rest of November, find something that you are thankful for each day – something that makes you smile, warms your heart, makes you feel good, or simply that you’re glad to have in your life. If you want to make up for lost time, that’s even better! Try to reach 30 things by the end of the month. It shouldn’t be that hard, I’m sure you have a lot that you are grateful for.
To motivate you, here’s some thoughts from Oprah on the importance of keeping a gratitude journal for the big and small things in life.
Document what you are grateful for by taking a picture or writing it down. While it’s optional how much you share, documenting is required. Taking a picture and writing force you to be really clear, specific, and intentional about what you are grateful for, and is a way of honoring it and showing your thanks. If you don’t take a photo, write it down somewhere that works for you – in a journal, in a document, on your blog, or on social media.
Share what you are grateful for in our group flickr pool. This group is public, so anyone can post and see the pictures. Label your pictures with “#imgratefulfor ____”. You can take pictures using your digital camera and upload it to flickr using your computer, or upload them directly from your camera phone (iPhones and Androids both have apps for Flickr).
Spread the gratitude further (and get more people to join the challenge) by sharing on social media! You can also post your picture on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter – use the hash tag #imgratefulfor so your pics can be found. If you aren’t taking a photo, you can still post what you are grateful for sans photo use the hash tag #imgratefulfor.
I’m excited to see what you are all grateful for! Share this with anyone you think would be interested – let’s see how big this can get!