This post is part of my Joy Experiment series which is published every Monday, and is a place to explore Joy (what it is, how to create it, why it’s important, etc).
Photo Credit: KateWares via Flickr
Gratitude, it’s everywhere
For the last few years I’ve read and listened to everyone from Dr. Martin Seligman to Dr. Oz to Oprah suggest that I should keep a gratitude journal.
In his book Flourish, Dr. Seligman talks about a group of Army sergeants who kept a gratitude journal and how it improved their health, sleep, and performance – not to mention their relationships (one sergeant, after 30 days of gratitude journaling, started to create a new, deeper connection with his 8 year old son).
Dr. Daniel Amen calls gratitude a natural anti-depressant (you can skip to 9:00 of the linked video if want to hear him talk about it).
And Dr. Andrew Weil recommends a gratitude practice to have a happier life.
So with all of this talk, not just from spiritual leaders, but from doctors who have supporting data & studies,…
why are we not all keeping gratitude journals?
Eh, I can skip today. No biggie, right?
Damn it, I’m grateful enough already. I don’t have to write it down.
It’s just easier not to do it.
But what if they’re right?
What if gratitude is the way to create more joy (and health) in your life?
Brené Brown talks about a definite relationship between joy and gratitude in her books.
“Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life or who described themselves as joyful, actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice.” ~ Brené Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection
And in her Lifeclass, Oprah talks about how gratitude creates space for joy.
And here they are together talking about joy & gratitude…
What is it about practicing gratitude that creates joy?
Through coaching I have learned just how important (and powerful) our perspective can be.
For example, if you are in the scarcity perspective or “not good enough” perspective or even the “I’m too busy” perspective, life feels heavy, depressing, unsatisfying, or overwhelming.
But if you are in a perspective of “enough”, “yes”, or “I’m grateful”… life feels lighter, brighter, happier.
So one way to look at a gratitude practice is that it is a way to shift yourself into a perspective which allows in more joy.
Gratitude is a tangible, practical way of shifting out of scarcity and into joy.
The Gratitude Challenge
The challenge I’m putting to you (and to me) is to start a gratitude practice. Today.
I’m going to keep a daily gratitude journal. (I started one last year but fell off the wagon pretty quickly).
To be a little more scientific(-ish), I’m going to write out how I’m feeling right now (about life, relationships, home, work, etc) before I begin the gratitude journal so that I’ll have a reference to compare to after 30 days of gratituding.
And I invite you to do the same…
Start by naming 3 things you are grateful for today. And like Oprah says, if you can’t think of anything else, start with your breath. (I am grateful for my breath.)
We’ll do it for 30 days and check back in to see how we feel and what we’ve learned. What do you think?
Ideas for ways to practice gratitude
- a gratitude journal.
- A “cool stuff” jar that you add a note to every day or once a week (read more about cool stuff jars here).
- As part of your morning meditation.
- Or some other creative way of practicing gratitude that you dream up.
Will you accept my challenge?
P.S. I used a coaching tool called “the Wheel of Life” to get a snapshot of how I’m feeling about life right now. I created a printable version for you to use. Download it here.