January is always a time of hunkering down and cocooning for awhile before spring. However, it feels like all of 2020 has been a super- long January, doesn’t it? I feel like I have been in a foxhole for months. I have been yearning for spring, new beginnings and activities once again.
In the meantime, with my limited resources, I have been turning inward more frequently, and exploring my interior world through journaling. Specifically, gratitude journaling.
I actually started this before the pandemic, because I was curious to a) see if I could keep it up and b) see what all the fuss is about.
Tomorrow marks my One-Year anniversary of daily gratitude journaling, which I began on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service holiday.
I recently reviewed my journals, as I am on my third one already, and I can definitely see a change in my writing. I think at first, I just kept listing people, material items and accomplishments that I was grateful for. As this year progressed, my writing got more contemplative, as I pondered larger questions around gratitude, giving, generosity, and kindness.
It may have been this particular year that spurred this pattern of thought, or even gave rise to my continued journaling. Who knows, in a less restrictive environment, I may have given it up long ago, easily distracted by new shiny objects flickering before me.
It may be this time in my life when I am not as self-conscious as I was in my youth and I feel liberated to explore the deeper realms of meanness and munificence. I know that I am curious about gratitude, as it is something people bandy about with frequency “I am so grateful for …almost like a throwaway line.
Are we truly grateful? How do we know we are? What does it feel like to be truly grateful? What change does real gratitude make in one’s life? How does it affect our spirit? How does it strengthen our connections to others?
So, here is the thing. As I said, I started out listing all the things I was grateful for, and it evolved over time to a different kind of journaling, a deeper reflection on being grateful. I thought I was just getting more personal insights into myself through my journaling efforts, but I unwittingly found the trick that makes gratitude more meaningful.
When you journal about your what you are grateful for specifically, you are more emotionally connected to the person, to the event, to nature. When you write this down in several sentences explaining why you feel so grateful it creates a true bond of gratitude that resonates deep within you.
This has been scientifically researched and proves that people who practice gratitude journaling experience a deeper connection to what they are grateful for and experience greater happiness and health because of it.
So, what are your waiting for? An invitation? It’s not like we are going anywhere soon. Get started tomorrow with writing down exactly what you are grateful for and why. If you need more of a nudge to get started, check out Gratitude Works! by Robert A. Emmons.