Quick question – what are three things you’re grateful for, right at this moment?
Can you easily name what you’re thankful for? Or is it kind of hard?
If it was a bit difficult, don’t sweat. I’m in the same boat! Gratitude is a trending mental health topic at the moment, and for good reason. The act of being thankful improves relationships, both psychological and physical health, self-esteem and mental strength. It even enhances sleep (which Lord knows we all need!).
But like every practice, we have to actually practice being grateful. That’s why I’ve partnered up with May Designs to share how I practice gratitude in my daily life, how this little notebook helps me do that and how you can do it, too.
My Gratitude Journey
To keep it real with y’all, gratitude is not the easiest practice for me. I consider myself a realist and I process things in a relatively logical manner. I like to be in control (surprise, surprise!) and oftentimes when I’m not in control, I feel like nothing is going right. It’s hard to be thankful for unwanted circumstances, crazy turns of events, or slight inconveniences that add up over the course of the day. And I’ve definitely been guilty of letting these things (like when Trader Joe’s is out of my favorite salad) swipe all thoughts of gratitude from my mind. It’s hard, right? We’ve all been there.
I forget so easily about everything throughout the day, and my life, that has gone right. Looking back, unwanted circumstances and slight inconveniences are the reason for so many things I’m grateful for today. Failing chemistry my freshman year of college led me to a different major, one that I was incredibly passionate about. Not moving to New York City after college has allowed me to appreciate Austin more than I ever did when I was a student here. Living in my leaky, hot-water-only-on-some-days apartment has prepared me to be insanely grateful for the new apartment that I’ll be moving into in just a few months.
I spent a lot of time focusing on what I was annoyed or frustrated about. Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s super easy to find things to complain about. There will always be inconveniences, annoyances, weird roommates and random frustrations, and I guess I was on a mission to name them all. After realizing the path I was on, one that wasn’t really going anywhere, I decided I truly needed to change my mindset. It isn’t practical or logical to focus on the negative – I wasn’t beating anyone but myself, and my friends and family could tell.
I did some research and read about the importance of gratitude, including all of the mental and physical benefits it yields. While the act of thankfulness does sound a bit hokey (is my skeptic showing?), I decided I wouldn’t knock it ’til I tried it.
I’ve loved May Designs for years, purchasing bright, colorful and customizable notebooks and agendas since I started college. They’ve recently created a new type of notebook specifically for noting gratitude on a daily basis. This style also has a side for to-do lists, making this little book perfect for my realistic self!
After journaling my gratitude every morning for a few weeks, here are some of my thoughts.
- Gratitude can be difficult at first.
- It’s okay to start with the small things.
- It’s okay to be most grateful for small things.
- I noticed that instead of being grateful for things, I was grateful for people.
- Some days were harder to be grateful than others.
- Practicing gratitude made me more of a morning person – I know, what?! This seriously sounds hokey, and I’m the last person on earth to be a morning person, but I was excited to wake up to jot down what I’m thankful for.
- Starting my morning with gratitude kept me in the same mindset for the rest of the day. I noticed myself saying “thank you” more than I usually do.
- Being thankful brought me closer to God. Knowing that all goodness comes from him makes each thing I’m grateful for a complete gift, even if it’s just a gorgeous sunset I caught on my way home from work.
While each of us deals with our own struggles, the difference (and the truth is) that we don’t have to let them eat up our emotions and energy. Each of us has the ability and the opportunity to cultivate gratitude in our own lives. All you have to do is set aside a few minutes each day to focus on the good and great going on in your life. You don’t necessarily need a special notebook to do it, though it might help!
Do y’all practice gratitude on a regular basis? Would love to hear about your journey with thankfulness, any tips you have for maintaining a thankful perspective, or what you’re thankful for today!
P.S. if you want to see my whole outfit from these photos, click here!