Gratitude works in mysterious ways. Can it reside within yourself and beyond? Is it possible to randomly stumble straight into it? Can you find it where you’d least expect it? Yes, yes, and most definitely yes. As if by magic, the more you look for and focus on gratitude, the more of it gets generated.
Hello? Is It Gratitude You’re Looking for?
When your gratitude practice becomes repetitive and you catch yourself listing the same set of things over and over again in your Five Minute Journal, worry not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being grateful for the same elements of reality every day (health being arguably the best example), and repetition constitutes a viable manifestation technique (especially in the affirmations section of the gratitude journal). However, there are also countless new gratitude opportunities popping up at any given moment and we can help you detect more of them.
Tips and Tricks for the Feeling Mind
Start simple. Be still, focus on your breath and go back to it whenever you notice too much pressure can hinder your ability to perceive things clearly. Quiet your mind and allow the warmth of gratitude to fill in any blank spaces within you from head to toe. Tune in to experiencing the world around you and activate your feeling mind. Logical thinking can get us far, yet to search for gratitude we need the emotional lens. Your senses will help you with that. What can you see? What can you hear, smell, or touch? Focusing on the details around you will help you be more present and engaged and break down your reality into reasons for gratitude.
In our daily gratitude practice we need to get as specific as possible. To simplify this process and help you get started, we’ve come up with three easy steps:
1. Focus on one thing
Gratitude practice isn’t an exam, the answers can and will come to you in due time. There is also no need to form a whole litany of what you are grateful for. Pick one thing and really meditate on it.
2. Connect with your WHY
Thoroughly analyze what makes you grateful for this particular person, experience, or emotion. Sit with the feeling in your heart, study that ray of sunshine in your soul generated by the why behind your gratitude, and embrace it with all your might.
3. Go into detail
This is where the magic happens. Are you grateful for your family? Think of your mom who always cheers you on. Recall a phone conversation with your sister that made your day. Appreciate a much-needed hug from your wife at the end of a stressful day and your son's laugh that makes problems vanish in an instant. Disassemble your gratitude to see your why clearly.
Gratitude Examples and Their Breakdown
There are no limits to what we can be grateful for, yet several items tend to hold honorary positions in our journals. Those are typically health, people close to our heart, things of sentimental value or which spark joy and happiness, careers and dreams. We’ve prepared a list of different categories and things you can be grateful for to assist you on your journaling experience and to guide you on your journey to appreciation, mindful living and self-growth.
There is no greater wealth than good health. Too bad this powerful truth often gets the treatment of a cliché. We need to peel off the layers, rediscover the gold and silver of health worth more than all the money in the bank and really appreciate the blessing in it.
Think of your body with love. If you have eyes that allow you to read, see the beauty of this world, and admire art – you are fortunate. If your ears enable you to listen to music, sounds of nature, and hear your loved ones’ voices – you are blessed. If you have a mouth that can laugh, sing and express love – luck is on your side. The bones in your arms, the muscles in your legs, and veins under your skin – your whole anatomy allows you to be alive, strong and function properly. Love your body with gratitude because it’s not a given, it’s a gift.
"Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble." ― Benjamin Franklin
Your mental health deserves equal attention. Our moods, feelings, and emotions serve a very important role in keeping us sane, resilient and optimistic. Acknowledge and embrace bliss, find and write down exactly what you feel happy about. Is it the sunny morning? The tasty breakfast prepared by the love of your life? Or a cup of good coffee? Is it the prospect of an entire day off ahead that you’ll use to rest and reconnect with your inner self? Expressing gratitude for each and every positive thread that weaves your mind into happiness will build your mental wellbeing in marble.
We are social creatures. We need others for support, survival, and happiness. While appreciation for the good people in our life usually comes to us naturally, it’s not only our family and friends we can include in our gratitude practice. It’s also our cheerleaders, mentors, coaches, peers, friendly team mates, and anyone who has contributed to improving our day-to-day life. Gratitude lives in the opportunity to recognize goodness and meet kindness in the form of a human being.
The elements of human interaction that bring positivity into your day, a word of encouragement, a hug, or a helping hand – they are all fuel for gratitude. It works the other way round, too. If you manage to put a smile on a stranger's face or help someone feel better, celebrate this success in your Five Minute Journal. Too often we neglect reasons to be happy because we think they’re insignificant, too simple to matter. Everything matters because it all adds up in your heart.
And now let’s take a moment and appreciate those who are no longer with us in our material reality. Make space in your journal for their love, for how they might have shaped the person you are today, for the beautiful memories. Be specific about their influence on your life. Gratitude knows no boundaries and that one time you both laughed so hard at something silly will serve as a reminder of that for years to come.
WHO WE ARE
Write down everything you accept, love, and admire in yourself. It has nothing to do with egocentrism and everything to do with gratitude building a home within you (again, in marble). Thank yourself for being brave and resilient in the face of adversity, wise enough to treat failure as an opportunity for growth, and truthful to who you are to properly own your space in the universe. Search your mind for specific examples of when you managed to overcome your fears, help someone in need, or knew better than to judge or criticize those who made your life harder. The goodness in you deserves a mention in your journal, so does your beauty, honesty, and strength. Honor and respect yourself in detail in your gratitude practice.
WHAT WE POSSESS
The roof above your head; this warm space with running water and electricity that you call your home; your comfy bed; the food in your kitchen; the technology that allows you to work from any place in the world and stay connected; the means of transport that take you places and allow you to travel to your dream job or on weekend trips – too often we take all that for granted. Rejoice, dear friends, for you are truly well equipped in life.
Anything you couldn’t live without should find room in your gratitude entries from time to time. As Oprah Winfrey said, feeling grateful for that one dollar in your pocket can open the door for more. Look around you. Are there photos of happy days on your walls? Can you spot a gift from your mom that makes your heart smile? Or or a special souvenir from Paris, only the best trip ever? Gratitude prompts are all around you if you’re willing to sharpen your senses.
DREAMS, PASSIONS, PLANS
There’s more to life than meets the eye and dreams are proof of that. They make life an exciting adventure. While your goals and plans attest to your ambition, and passions and hobbies enrich your life with joy, your dreams work side by side with imagination to create more room for gratitude within you. Close your eyes, see your dreams come true in your mind’s eye, then express the level of gratitude akin to the fabric of reality, and visualize your dreams into existence. Have you been actively building your productivity with great habits, or investing in your education to reach your goals? Maybe you’ve been taking Spanish classes to better relate to the culture and people of the country you want to visit? Write down the specifics of the why behind your dreams. Marveling at how wonderful it feels to have both dreams and a chance to make them come true is gratitude at its finest. Dream on!
"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." – Gloria Steinem
Breaking the Rules
Your gratitude practice does not need to abide by any laws or instructions. If you’re stuck listing items in your journal, establish a gratitude ritual, take a gratitude walk, or say a blessing for someone else. Take pictures of what makes you happy, create vision boards, or sing your gratitude out loud – there are no rules.
If you choose the Five Minute Journal as your tool, disregard the split between the morning and the evening bit. Rearrange the sections, play with them. List one, three or five things you are grateful for. Do your gratitude practice in the evening, maybe you’ll feel more inspired right before bed. Gratitude flow is not bound by certain times or locations. Take your journal wherever you go and whenever something sparks joy in you, write it down. It will put the positive feelings at the forefront of everything you do.
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." ― Albert Einstein