An attitude of gratitude
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The power of positive thinking isn’t a new concept by any means. Clearly if you focus on the good stuff that happens, you’ll notice it more. Conversely, if you focus on the negative, you’ll see more of that.
A couple of years ago I noticed that a lot of my Facebook friends had a gratitude jar. Every day they would write down something they were thankful for on a slip of paper and drop it in the jar. Then at they end of the year they could take out all the slips and remind themselves of all these wonderful things. I have a beautiful wooden box which a client gave me a number of years ago, and I decided to use that instead of a jar. I did it for a while, but it really didn’t excite me. All I saw was a bunch of scraps of paper in a box.
Next, I started a Pinterest board called Thankful Thoughts. I intended to add one pin every day. The problem I ran into was that not every thankful thought can be captured in an image, at least not one that I owned or could easily find online. I kept it up for quite a while – saving over 200 pins – but it too fell by the wayside, and I’ve since deleted the board.
Most recently, I began a coaching program with Elizabeth Hagen, who teaches that gratitude is an essential step to success and told me about an app called Day One. Shortly after buying my iPad (one of the things I am thankful for), I downloaded the app and began using it as a gratitude journal.
Every night before I go to bed, I create an entry, typing three things I’m thankful for and attaching either a photo I find online (because it’s strictly for my personal use, I don’t need to worry about copyright issues) or one I’ve taken myself. One day I took some photos specifically with my gratitude journal in mind. Because they’re my personal thoughts, I won’t share a screenshot, but you can see how great it looks on the Day One website.
I’ve only been doing this for a couple of weeks, but I can see this being a habit that lasts. Not only does the technology of it appeal to me, it turns out that evening is a much better time for this activity than first thing in the morning, which is when I did in in my previous efforts.
During my first week of this practice, I happened to read this:
Gratitude increases resistance to life’s curve balls. It improves your outlook on life. Practicing gratitude can rewire your brain to see things more positively. Gratitude is a wonderful life tool.
Barbara Tako, Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools
I discussed Tako’s book further in a separate post called Cancer touches all of us, but I found that particular passage very timely.
Do you make gratitude a part of your daily life?
Love this post! Truly I subscribed to “an attitude of gratitude” daily. I find that there is not enough thankfulness in our lives and sharing that gratitude. I share my gratitude daily in small ways to those around me in sharing genuine and authentic ways. It may sound cheesy, but I know for me I feel more gratitude and those around me feel appreciated.
Sometimes what sounds cheesy is actually most valuable! Thanks for popping in, Ellen!
[…] I mentioned in An attitude of gratitude, I recently read Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools, in which Barbara Tako shares her journey as a […]
I consider myself an appreciative person, but I’ve never been able to stick to a gratitude program, whether that’s keeping a journal or otherwise. I tend to recap my day a few times (when talking to my mother and at least one friend, when emailing a friend, etc.) and in recapping, show my gratitude for the thing (in the moment). When I try to write things down in a more formal way, I run out of things fairly quickly and then feel obligated to keep writing in increasing platitudes: I’m thankful my eyes work, I’m thankful for indoor plumbing. Sigh.. It gets old. So, I believe in the power of gratitude for setting the right mindset, as all of the positive psychology books and classes note this, but I find it really difficult to do it formally. Thanks for the reminder.
That’s exactly why I could never stick to a daily gratitude practice. Glad to know I am not the only one who’s had that problem! I do think being continually grateful is more important than having a formal way of documenting it.
I keep a gratitude log in the back of my prayer journal. I challenge myself to always add something new. I do think it helps set my day off with a focus on all that is going well, or even anything that is going well if I am in a difficult season. I am truly thankful to God for his many blessings and astounding kindness!
Thank you for sharing, Seana!
It can be challenging to keep finding new things to be grateful for, but it helps if I drill down to specifics or even think back to earlier times in my life. Right now, for example, I’m grateful that my parents owned a cottage while I was growing up. And there are many reasons why, each of which is another thing I’m thankful for!
I love that you found what works for you with a Gratitude Practice. I have used the jar idea for a few years putting in my piece of paper when I remembered to do it (so not everyday). I even put in some grateful intentions I had for the future which did come true as well. I really like the idea of doing this in the evening before bed. I may adopt that idea.
I’ve never heard of gratitude intentions – that’s an interesting concept. I’ve done something similar, where you write out what you’d tell someone if you were to run into them a year from now, describing what you want to happen, and all but one of the things I wrote down came to pass. Powerful stuff!
This is such a beautiful post. One of the things I love is how you let yourself experiment with gratitude. You didn’t give up. Day One sounds like a wonderful app that works beautifully for you. And that’s what it’s all about. I kept a gratitude journal for a while but found it too formulaic. Over time, it felt too forced. Instead, I embrace opportunities each day in small or big ways to express my gratitude to others and to acknowledge what I’m grateful for to myself. Sometimes these are simply noted in my mind. At other times they are captured in journals, letters, or even blog posts.
I love the quote you shared from Barbara Tako. And I’d add to that- not only is gratitude a great tool, but it’s also a beautiful way of being in the world. There is so much hardship, loss, and sadness. Gratitude gives us another lens through which to view life, build resilience and hope.
Day One was good but I didn’t stick with it either, mainly for the reason you describe: it ended up feeling forced and one more thing I *had* to do.
Even though I no longer have a formal gratitude practice, I consider myself a grateful person, because even on days when nothing seems to go right, I’m very aware of the many wonderful people and things in my life – like you and the many others in my online community!