The Art of Gratitude: More Than Just a Journal

By: Jamie Martin

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Thanksgiving is a week away. It’s the day that many families practice gratitude (even if it’s just a one-minute pause before dinner with the family).

Yet, a gratitude practice that is year-long is far more beneficial. You’ve seen it in articles. You’ve read about gratitude journaling. You’ve read about the benefits. You have tried making gratitude a daily practice.

And nothing happened! It didn’t change your life profoundly. It didn’t make you happier.

Why didn’t it work?

It’s simple. Did you practice the art of gratitude or did you take the action like it was something on your to-do list?

[Related: How to Overcome Inertia (or: Would You Like a Rotten Apple?)]

There’s a big difference between the two. Most of us take actions that are “supposed” to make us happier, healthier, or stronger. You put the work in by doing each step that was outlined for you.

In this case, you bought a journal. You picked a time of day to write down the things you were grateful for and you did it every day for two weeks. You listed ten things you were grateful for that day.

Upon looking back, you see the same things are listed. My husband, my home, my coffee. You stopped thinking about the list, but just wrote down what you had the previous day and the day before that.

You were never fully connected to gratitude.

Your gratitude journal became just another list to create. You didn’t embrace the art of gratitude while creating your list. You simply created a list.

[Related: Thirty Days of Me First]

Now imagine this:

You sit down with your gratitude journal. You pause for a moment and connect with your body and heart. You bring up one thing you are grateful for that day. Today, maybe it was the hug of someone special.

You reconnect to the moment you were hugging. You feel your body relax immediately, as if you are still hugging that person right now. You feel a smile curl up at the ends of your lips. A warmth runs across your chest. You feel grateful.

You write down this feeling in your gratitude journal.

The magic of a gratitude practice comes alive when you go beyond writing the list and instead feel gratitude throughout your whole being. You’ll start to see it in your everyday life. Your appreciation for things will take off and you’ll find yourself smiling every time something you are grateful for happens or shows up in your life. You’ll find yourself feeling gratitude in the moment.

Go ahead and give practicing the art of gratitude a try today! You may just find that you don’t care so much about the outcome of the practice as much as you enjoy the practice itself.

[Related: Lead with Empathy, Lead with Inclusion]

Jamie Martin is a life and leadership coach who helps women who have been going and going and going for so long that they feel like they’ve lost themselves. She helps her clients give themselves permission to put themselves first, create a plan, and go after their dreams.

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