Written by Alison Gurevich
542 days ago I began a gratitude practice. I write down 10 things I am grateful for, and it’s usually the last thing I do before I go to sleep. Everyday. I am on my third journal – that’s 5,420 things I’ve taken the time to write down my gratitude for.
Although it seems everyone and their sister talks about gratitude and gratitude journaling (Oprah, Arianna Huffington, Tony Robbins and countless others) I had never quite found my rhythm with it. I finally did after reading “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis. In the book she details her “Five to Thrive”, five key practices for mental and physical health. They included things I was already doing (drinking plenty of water) and things I was not (writing down 10 things every day I was grateful for). I was on vacation and stumbled across a half used old composition book of my daughters that I had torn out the used pages and intended to use for to do lists or notes or some such thing. I decided to give it a 30-day commitment.
And then I just kept going. And going. I have no end date. I will not be done with gratitude when I get to 1,000 or some other magical number. After this many days it has become a part of my day, like brushing my teeth. Here is what works for me and how I keep it going:
The book said 10. Not 10 big things, but more specifically 10 little things. I’ve found 10 is enough that it never gets too easy. I can whip through five or six things off the top of my head. I usually have to dig a little deeper and revisit my memories of the day to get to 10.
Why at night?
The goal is to be mindful of gratitude during your day. When you know you have to make a list at the end of the day, the brain begins to notice more things as they happen and tries to remember them. That bit of extra attention matters!
Why I use dollar store comp books…
I have found I have to keep this low key. I know myself, and by keeping this practice casual, I don’t feel bad on the nights I am scribbling in a way that is barely recognizable. I have a part of my head that thinks a fancy journal requires fancy thoughts in fancy penmanship. When I’m feeling grateful that the kitchen soap dispenser was fixed (day 40) I don’t need to question if that gratitude is a big enough one, or if my handwriting looks nice enough.
Sort of. I almost always do this at night. I take my gratitude journal on vacation. But… I am a human and I give myself grace and space. If I miss a day, I just do it as soon as I can the next day. I still try to write down things that are from the prior day, but I also do not stress about it and I fill in with extra things from the current day.
Spending a few minutes each day focused on gratitude has given me a structure to pay more attention to the good parts that exist in every day. There have been days it has been a challenge, days I had to reframe some things that happened to see anything worth being grateful for, and days when I could have easily written 50 things. I invite you to give this practice a try, to allow more space in your day to notice the small things, and the freedom to find your own rhythm in how you put this practice into your life.