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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A different kind of journal.

About two years ago, I stumbled across Jenny Firth's journal work while wasting time on Pinterest.  I was totally captivated by her artwork (she makes it look so easy!) and felt like I found a kindred spirit in someone who loved to doodle in their planner.  A long-time fan of the planner, I often find myself writing encouraging words or making small, simple doodles, but never anything as intricate as Jenny does.  Maybe someday...

While poking around on her website, I found her gratitude journal work.  I'm not sure when I first heard about a gratitude journal, but the concept is pretty simple: you devote your pages and entries to things you are grateful for in life.  Her pages are beautiful, intricate illustrations of the things she is grateful for - you can see a recent one here - but it can be something as simple as making a list.  I was intrigued by this idea, and started to do some research on it to see what the general guidelines would be, and the most common suggestion is to do set aside time each day (usually at the beginning or the end) and write five things you are grateful for that day.  It can be something as simple as the cup of tea you just had, or more elaborate like overcoming an obstacle or achieving something, or even just that the sun was out.

Ultimately, the idea is to encourage an environment of gratitude each day, regardless of how good or bad things can be.  One school of thought is that if you do this, if you spend each day writing five things you're grateful for, after a certain amount of time you will be a generally happier person than when you started, and you will automatically become accustomed to recognizing the things you are grateful for, whatever they may be.

I strongly doubted this, not because I'm a non-believer, but mostly because there wasn't concrete evidence to confirm it.  Regardless, I jumped on board, because hey, who couldn't stand to practice being more grateful?  As of today, I've been doing this consistently for a little over two weeks.  Like any other Tuesday, I got up this morning, a little tired but otherwise fine, and settled into getting to work.  I jumped on the phone with a friend for a good 45 minutes, just playing catch up, and afterwards, the craziest thing happened.

I was hit with a ton of gratitude bricks.

That is the only way I can accurately describe it.  It was like a cloud was lifted, and I was suddenly re-energized, emotional, thankful - all of these emotions all at once - and deep down, totally grateful.  Grateful for a healthy life, for amazing family and friends, for a gloomy cool Tuesday morning, for everything.  I started putting together a meal in the crockpot and found myself thinking, 'I am so grateful I bought chicken a few weeks ago and froze the extra so I could make soup today.'  I mean, I literally thought it.  Insane.

I'm not saying that I am going to wake up every day feeling this way, because I think that's unrealistic this early on in this journey.  But the feeling I had this morning, that came totally out of left field, was so wonderful, I wanted to bottle it up and ship it to all of my friends.  I'm pretty convinced its come just from focusing on the good, rather than the bad, even if its only five things a day.  I'm looking forward to seeing how else it manifests in my life, as I'm sure this won't be the last time I'll feel like a ball of gracious energy.

If you have considered starting a gratitude journal, I highly encourage it.  I picked out a simple leather journal from Target, and set aside time at the end of each day (right before I get ready for bed and usually while I have a cup of tea) to write.  Sometimes they're long sentences, sometimes its just a list.  Often I have to sit and really think through my day and reflect, but even then, I always find something, even if its literally being grateful for being able to actually write.  I find myself looking forward to it and picking up on things throughout the day that probably would have passed me by before.  Its a wonderful tool and I'm really grateful (see?!) that I started working on it.

What are you grateful for today?

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