Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful. It is a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. There have been numerous recent (and probably old ones as well) studies that show how practicing gratitude each day is good for our mental health.
December tends to be a whirlwind of activity for me (and I would guess the same for many others). I have a tendency toward anxiety during stressful times. My anxiety expresses itself in many ways. I tend to nag more, to lose my temper more, to become more fearful of the “what-ifs”, which in turn makes me more controlling (see the first two items for the issue with this), and generally, want to disengage from the chaos swirling around me.
That is why I decided that December’s Challenge would be the perfect month for me to spend practicing gratitude. Each monthly challenge forces my personal growth a little more. This month was no exception.
The best way for me to participate in a gratitude challenge was to follow a prompt. I chose this one that I found on Pinterest. I wasn’t sure how I would capture my daily gratitude only that I would capture it in a concrete way each day.
How I Practiced Gratitude.
In the end, my concrete form was a photo or video posted to my Instagram story each day. I did take photos with my camera most days as well. Originally, I had planned to keep a gratitude journal because most things I read talk about the benefits of journaling, especially journaling about gratitude. Journaling my gratitude over the 30 days did occur. The problem with my journaling scenario was that I’d think about the prompt throughout the day, journal it most days, but some days I’d just crash into bed and then journal it the next morning. Around day 20, the daily portion became even more sporadic as to when I’d fill it in. This may or may not (definitely may) coincide with the fact that my kids began their winter break and we were rapidly approaching Christmas.
Lessons Learned About Gratitude.
Over the course of the 30 days, I picked up a few personal lessons about gratitude and journaling. I thought I’d share some in case you find them helpful.
- If you’re thinking about what you want to journal, just stop and journal it. Otherwise, you might find yourself too tired and skipping journaling all the things you’d found to be grateful for over the course of the day.
- Even though I chose to focus on a daily prompt, I still found myself thinking of all the other things in my life that brought out my gratitude.
- If you feel compelled, list more things that you are grateful for, even if you are doing a daily prompt.
- Don’t edit your gratitude. This is a personal journey and journal. You don’t have to share it with the world. Unless you want to…then by all means…do.
- Practicing gratitude helps keep the anxiety levels down.
- Practicing gratitude really does help you keep the important things in life in perspective.
- There’s always something to be grateful for.
These are just a few of the lessons that I learned during my 30 days of practicing gratitude. I haven’t given up on journaling and will continue to try to have it become a habit. Recently, I read at this website, Greater Good in Action (a collaboration between UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center and HopeLab), that writing in a gratitude journal three times a week (1-3 times it says deeper in the article) might have a greater impact on our happiness than journaling every day.
That might be a good place for me to start.
Practicing Gratitude In Action.
As a result of each of these daily concrete examples of practicing gratitude, I decided to make a YouTube video of the clips from my 30 days of gratitude. I’m still learning how to make the edits, so I don’t know how to add music to a video on some clips and leave the talking on others. Maybe that should be a challenge for me this year?
Hey… we’re all works in progress, right?!
Do you practice daily gratitude?
What are you most grateful for today?
Even though I’m on day 3 of my January Challenge, it’s never too late to join along.
Let your light shine!