Recently, a reader asked me about my Awesomely Thankful gratitude journal. What’s in it? What should she write? Can I share pictures?
Not every day can be great. Not as a parent. Not as a human being. Like you, I’ve had my times of difficult moments. Times when I felt left out. Times when I felt like I have no one in my life to really count on. Times when really bad things happen. Times of illnesses. Times of really difficult behavior challenges with the kids.
It’s not easy to be thankful when your day just feels plain awful.
But it is possible. I’ve been doing this practice for nearly two years. It has been life changing and I couldn’t imagine going to sleep each night without first saying thanks for all the blessings in my life.
Here’s how to find gratitude in the dark. Write just five things down in any journal you have lying around the house. Add the date to each entry. That’s it. Nothing fancy.
Here’s some prompts to spark your own gratitude practice:
1. Thank your body. Unless you’ve died, you still have plenty of reason to be thankful for your health. Even when something is wrong, there’s plenty that is still right. Being thankful for being alive is the single most important way to find gratitude during the hardest days. What is working well on your body today?
2. Thank those who show up. Lately, I’ve had to re-define what family means to me. It’s not what I thought it was, not when all of my family moved hundreds of miles away. I’ve since found ways to be thankful for the people who are showing up in our lives each and every week in new and amazing ways. From the friends we’re relying on to serve as our children’s emergency contacts to the people who are asking me how they can help when I’m sick. But not just them. I like to thank the people who make our lives better. Postal workers. Store clerks. Hairdressers. Who showed up for you today?
3. Thank the world around you. When times are really hard, I can always step outside and be grateful for something in nature. The sun shining. The moon rising. The rain quenching the earth. Birds chirping. Grass under my feet. What amazes you that’s outside your own web of life?
4. Thank what makes you happy. All things I write about seem to circle back to having happy days, and making memories. That’s right. Knowing that you are going to write in your journal is really a great way to practice making memories. Find the simple pleasures in life and do them each day. What makes you feel joy? What makes you happy? What brings you comfort? What makes you smile? Do those things. Write about them.
5. Thank your challenges. You may not always be ready for this one but eventually it’s good to see how the hard times are making your days better. For instance, when I was sick the past two weeks, I was thankful each day just for being alive and to have another day. I was pretty sick. : ) But, when we dealt with my husband’s lay off, we found ways to be thankful anyway. It’s the best way to pick yourself up. What hard luck story are you living right now and what’s the teachable moment you’re learning and living as a result? How is your challenge making your life better?
6. Thank the kids. Of course, there’s always something wonderful and amazing about the kids. I write one line each about our daughters and what they’ve done to amaze me each day. Even when they’ve been in terrible state of minds, I write something good about them. It brings it all into perspective for me and our life together. It helps me see the big picture of where this is all going. What do you want to remember of your child today? What’s her talent? What’s his passion? What’s a quirky behavior that you can turn into a positive? What moment do you not want to forget that happened today? Be thankful for those moments because they are the most fleeting.
7. Thank your partner. What did he do for you today? What did he do right? How was she helpful or how did she show you love today? Did he interact with the kids in a special way? Don’t forget to notice the golden moments of love in your own relationships whether you are married or not.
8. Thank all evidence of Kindness and Courage. Did someone do something special for you? Did you do something special for someone else? Did you take a risk today? Be thankful for your ability to make someone’s day or your own. I’m not talking words. I’m talking actions. Less talk, more action. Write about someone who went above and beyond for you or for someone you know.
9. Thank those celebrations, rituals and traditions. If you have any, write them down because they are super special. If your children create any, write those down. What do you do every Sunday morning? Where do you go every Saturday? How do you pass the days in meaningful, amazing ways?
10. Thank the good stuff. Finally, of course, you must write about the good things that happen to you and to those you love. And, the longer your keep this journal, the longer this part of the list becomes. Trust me. It’s true. What good luck did you have today? What blessings fell upon your lap? Did you land that big project? Meet a deadline? What did you do that was amazing and worth remembering? Be thankful for the goodness you helped bring to yourself and to your family.
How about you? What are you thankful for today?