It was another cool and cloudy day in Missouri, but I felt great! I’ve listened to my bedtime alarm now, two nights in a row and went to bed on time, and I only hit my snooze button once in the morning. I had my outfit picked out before I went to bed, and the boys’ outfits too, so all I had to do was get out of bed, pour myself a glass of orange juice, and start getting ready. It’s only been two mornings so far, but this new routine is already making a major impact!
Something else I did before bed Monday night, in spite of my immense sleepiness, was make my first entry in a gratitude journal. 2018 seems to have it out for me, with one unfortunate event after another invading my usually-peaceful life. My stress has been building, and with it the frequent use of the f-bomb and all of its potty-mouth companions. When I’m stressed, even the tiniest things get under my skin and my aggravation manifests itself in swearing and grouchy head space.
I actually sat down on Saturday and wrote down some of the thoughts I’ve had and even said out loud recently, and I couldn’t believe myself. Reading those words, I sounded like a mean, rotten, miserable human being! I may not have been saying these things to people or acting outwardly abominable, but I had to wonder just how my inner dialogue was effecting my outward mood and actions. I am a firm believer that what we think and feel is what we put out into the world. And I clearly was not making the world a better place with what I’ve been offering up lately.
I grabbed my notebook and a pen, and started writing down my bad habits. For each bad habit, I turned to the good ol’ internet for creative ways to improve. My google searches led me to YouTube, and I ended up on a video about how to be more positive by Kalyn Nicholson. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with her channel. She is super-adorable, and her videos are so uplifting that I immediately felt encouraged and inspired to improve. You can check out Kalyn’s channel here if you’re in need of a little inspiration too!
Somehow while filtering through videos, I landed on one about gratitude journaling. The concept of gratitude doesn’t seem overly significant…it’s just being grateful for the good things in life. But gratitude is something simple, that really is powerful. It is easy to be grateful when things are going good, but what about when things haven’t been so good?
What about when both kids get sick with rotavirus and you miss almost a week of work? What about when both kids get the flu just a couple of weeks after that and you miss almost another week of work? What about when you discover that the “hives” your oldest son has are actually bed bug bites, and he’s harboring a mini-colony in his box spring just a couple of weeks after the flu passes? Or when you leave for work and school one morning during a cold snap only to discover a dead car battery? This has literally been my life since 2018 began!
Those are the times when being grateful isn’t so easy. But those are also the times when being grateful is that much more important. Looking for reasons to be grateful when things are hard or stressful keeps your thoughts positive. It keeps you from feeling sorry for yourself, or giving in to perpetual grouchiness. Remembering what you have to be grateful for keeps your spirits up, gives you energy to make it through the stressful times, and makes you feel happy in spite of having every reason in the world to feel angry and defeated.
The idea of gratitude journaling seemed encouraging, and I thought it might be a great way to physically do something to change my inner thought dialogue and subconscious reactions to stress, rather than just trying to remember not to curse! So I dug an empty notebook out of the bottom drawer of my desk…a bright, cheery yellow one with a blank page in the front that was perfect for doodling and personalizing.
I started out with Oprah’s method of gratitude journaling, which she actually got from reading Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, where you write down five things from that day that you are grateful for. I did this between posting about my bad sleeping habits and my strict 9:30 bedtime. I immediately felt a positive shift in my thought process, and I’ve felt a noticeable boost in happiness these last two days since starting the journal.
I haven’t felt the need to complain about the little annoyances that happen in the day-to-day. My perspective has been less focused on the things that are bugging me, and more on the needs of other people. I’ve felt kinder and more intuitive. If this is the result after just two days of writing about what I’m grateful for, I can only imagine the positive shift over the long term.
With all of the craziness going on out there, why not put more good vibes out into the world?! Follow along with me, and we can work on having grateful hearts together 🙂