This past weekend was the Canadian Thanksgiving.
It’s always a great weekend. I can honestly say I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.
I was sitting and journaling last month when I realized I had one month until my birthday. This year has been a crazy adventure for me on many different levels. I always find myself retreating into a very introspective place in the fall, just before my birthday (and that’s saying something because I’m always pretty introspective).
According to Brené Brown and many others, happiness (or joy rather) is actually something you can cultivate. One of the ways of doing this is to keep a gratitude journal. Seriously, practicing gratitude can increase your everyday joy in life. It goes back to that old saying “it’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got”. I have a tendency to focus pretty strongly on what I don’t have, or what I think is missing from my life. And considering all I do have, this can make me feel guilty on top of feeling a little put out about what I supposedly feel is lacking in my life. So I decided on that day to challenge myself to focus instead on everything I am grateful for in my life as I approach my birthday.
So I started a 30 day gratitude challenge for myself. My rules were this:
1. Write what I’m grateful for every day for the next 30 days.
2. Each day add something, starting from one to thirty (so today I will be writing down 23 things I’m grateful for)
3. No repeats: exceptions include specifics (like I can be grateful for my parents one day, but can’t say that again for the rest of the challenge, but I can be grateful for a phone conversation with my parents on a different day).
The no-repeats part was a little intimidating for me. After all, it is easy to fall back on being grateful for my loving family and my cat (#haveyouseenmyinstagramaccount?). But I wanted to stretch my gratitude muscle and really try to find different things every day. And surprisingly I’ve been able to do just that. A lot of my grateful for things focus around friends, family, nature, and that sort of thing. But random ones will pop into my head every now and then. I mean yesterday I even wrote that I was grateful for my mom making me keep a journal when I was 12, without which I wouldn’t have cultivated a practice to journal EVERYTHING and have journals from my teen years until now (seriously got a lot of journals filled almost to the last page).
Can I say if it’s increased my happiness levels? I’m not sure. I definitely actually try to notice things throughout my day, or I’ll think oooooh that’s something I can be grateful for (which I promptly forget about and can’t remember when I sit down to write my list…). I’m not sure if I was in a more positive place mentally and started the gratitude journal or if it really has helped me focus on what I got instead of what I want-but-don’t-have. Either way it’s been a great challenge to date, and I’m excited to see how the last week of it goes.
Have you ever kept a gratitude journal? Or even just tried focusing more on what you’re grateful for?