How To Start A Gratitude Journal

One of the coolest suggestions I’ve heard over and over again from people I admire is to keep a gratitude journal.

Actually, most of them simply say to keep a journal and include a daily gratitude list.

The people I’ve heard this from include successful and happy teachers, successful and happy musicians, successful and happy business people, successful and happy artists, successful and happy athletes… successful and happy parents…

Did you notice I used the term successful and happy six times in that last sentence?

You did?

Good. There’s a pattern there I want you to understand.

It doesn’t matter if you want to become the greatest yogi of all time or simply lead a happy and fulfilled life…  or choose any other path. You will grow more and faster if you keep a journal and in that journal you take stock of your day.

If you include gratitude in your journal you will grow even faster and be much happier than if you leave it out.

There have been a number of recent studies on the positive effects of gratitude, and while the studies often fall short of clearly established cause and effect, they consistently highlight an association between gratitude and personal well-being.

There is nothing which gives you a joy equal to that of gratitude.
~ The Mother of Pondicherry, Questions and Answers, 1956

Keep A Gratitude Journal To Improve Personal Well-Being

How To Start A Gratitude Journal

Keeping A Gratitude Journal Increases Personal Well Being

Hopefully, you don’t allow unsuccessful or unhappy people to have any influence over you. Instead, it would likely serve you well to listen to  those who’ve achieved whatever you want to achieve… whether it be doing Hanumanasana (the splits), total spiritual liberation [note: please refer to this post to get a sense of perspective], or making a lot of dosh (money for my American readers). People who have what you want or have done what you want to do… well… let’s just say they are your guides.

So when someone successful and happy tells me to keep a journal and include daily bits of gratitude… I listen. When it keeps coming to me over and over and over again… I listen intently.
Are you paying attention?

How To Start A Gratitude Journal

My good friend Rosaleen Bloomfield is a professional coach. We participate in a mastermind session together once a week. We were having a discussion about keeping a journal and she said something that made a whole lot of sense. In a way she gave me a shortcut on how to start a gratitude journal.

Rosaleen advised me to answer a few questions in my journal each day:

  1. What went well?
  2. What didn’t go well?
  3. What could you change to make it better?

Then, after those three questions are answered, it’s time to look at the day for ‘things to be grateful for…’

[yes, that was a dangling preposition… yes, I know it’s not technically correct… and I’m grateful it won’t matter to my happiness… or yours. :-)]

Here’s the really cool thing. I’ve found that by answering Rosaleen’s three questions that it becomes easy to find gratitude. Check out this simple example:

  1. What went well? Today I wrote a blog post and got it published. It was on keeping a gratitude journal. I invoiced some clients and managed to schedule some more semi-privates and privates over the course of the next month. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings. I’m grateful that someone might read it and benefit. I’m grateful for the platforms used: the internet, wordpress, the theme developed by Optimize Press, etc. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share more of what I know about yoga and life to people who want to make positive changes in their lives…
  2. What didn’t go well? Today was too short… I only got half the work done that I intended. I also made a mistake on an invoice I sent to a client and had to re-do the whole thing. I’m grateful for the work that did get done. I’m grateful for the opportunity to develop discernment – to learn to choose how to spend time more wisely. I’m grateful for the lesson I learned when I made that mistake… so I won’t need to make the same mistake again. I’m grateful for the accounting software that caught my mistake…
  3. What could you change to make it better? I could clearly define my work schedule. I could finally move into an office space outside of home to lessen the impact of distractions on my time. I could… I’m grateful for the understanding I’ve recently gained about balance and imbalance in work, play, family and other aspects of life. I’m grateful for my family and the time I spend with them… even though I haven’t applied the balance knowledge yet… I’m grateful for…

Of course, you can do this in any way that suits you. For me it works to combine the two – the taking stock and the finding expressions of gratitude. It keeps me focused and I must say… I’m a lot happier.

In terms of yoga… well, this leads to a cultivation of Santosha or contentment. That’s one of the pre-requisites for all of that crazy asana stuff by the way… but be careful who you tell… they might get offended. But if you suggest they keep a gratitude journal ‘just because’ then they’ll get the positive effect and it will lead to much more useful asana.

Yep, fake ’em out. Need to know… know what I mean?

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