Last year, a good friend gave me a copy of the article below. I don't know where she found it but I liked it so well, I used the idea in a lesson I gave in church about gratitude. As part of the lesson, I gave each woman in the class a small spiral bound notebook with a pen so that they could try this in their own lives. I am still surprised a year later that people will still bring up their gratitude journal and tell me different things that they have been writing down in it.
Gratitude is such an amazing principle and I know the world would be a better place if people would just be more grateful. The downturn in the economy would simply not touch as many lives if people would spend more time pondering on their blessings rather than worrying about what they don't have. You wouldn't have the so-called "99%" pitching tents and making a racket on the streets bellyaching that they don't have what the 1% have if they would simply take a few moments each day to be grateful instead of bitter (would anyone like to hear a rant about that movement? I would love to share but that would be a blog in and of itself). And on and on it goes. Christ Himself accomplished many mighty miracles simply using the principle of gratitude (don't believe me? - it's in the Bible, read it again and watch for it). In fact, Spencer W. Kimball once commented that the most important word in the dictionary is "Remember". When we remember the blessings Heavenly Father has showered upon us, we will be amazed. The process is a simple one: Each night before you go to bed, write down five things that you can be grateful about that day. Some days the list will be filled with amazing things, most days just simple joys. Do it for at least a month and your life will change forever.
How to Keep a Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal is a way to consciously call attention to the things for which we are thankful each day. By focusing on gratitude, we become aware of those things and thus create a shift in our thinking to the positive. The following suggestions can help start a gratitude journal and a whole new outlook on life.
1.Choose a blank notebook or journal to write in every night. Consider a spiral-bound journal that opens flat for ease in writing. Select lined or unlined paper. Keep this notebook next to the bed with a pen readily available.
2.Look for things during the day for which you are grateful. Make mental notes throughout the day. Notice how the gratitude journal shifts the focus to a more positive outlook.
3.Write five thing you're grateful for each night before bedtime. Review the day and include anything, however small or great, that was a source of gratitude that day, e.g., a baby's smile, a flower in bloom, or the smell of a newly cut lawn. Make the list personal. Write a few words about the five benefits or blessings. Be brief and increase the length as time progresses. Some days you will write down amazing things. Other days--rough ones--you might think that you don't have five things to be grateful for, so just write down the basics: health, family, animals, home, friends, the comfortable bed that you're about to get into, or even just the fact that the day's over. That's okay. Real life isn't always going to be perfect or go our way, but the recurring acknowledgment of what is working in our lives can help us not only survive, but surmount our difficulties.
4.Begin looking everyday for the positive angle in all things. View obstacles as opportunities to appreciate.
5.Focus on the wonderful things in life to attract similar encounters in the course of the day. Use positive energy as a magnet to draw even more positive energy. Note these attractions in the gratitude journal.
6.Personalize the gratitude journal. Expand it with clippings, photos, quotes or verses from magazines or other sources.
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."
The amazing part of this process is that the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given to you. Heavenly Father is dying to provide us with blessings - He's just waiting for us to acknowledge the ones we already have so that He can then shower us with more.
As the months pass and you fill your journal with blessings, an inner shift in your reality will occur. Soon you will be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. As you focus on the abundance rather than on the lack in your life, you will be designing a wonderful new blueprint for the future. This sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work, transforming your dreams into reality. A French proverb reminds us that "Gratitude is the heart's memory." Henry B. Eyring also encourages us to use a journal to remember blessings. These are his thoughts on how to do it: "As you start to write, you could ask yourself, “How did God bless me today?” If you do that long enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And sometimes you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God’s hand in your life. Remembrance is the seed of gratitude, which is the seed of generosity."
Try the experiment. This process has helped me not only remember my blessings but the One who is giving them to me. I have better come to understand how God talks to me - He does it through the things He knows I love the most. Pinpointing those things by writing them down and reflecting on them has opened my mind to the love God has for me and His constant watchful care and mindfulness of me. He knows and loves me so much more than anyone else on earth. Gratitude and simply being mindful of my many blessings has really improved the communication between us. And it quite simply just makes life sweeter!