You know how so many self-help experts and gurus encourage everyone to look at the glass half-full? That’s because it really is one of the best ways to rewire your mind.
Perhaps it’s popular culture, capitalism or pure human nature. People grow up “wanting” – more friends, popularity, academic achievements, pocket money, salary, a bigger house, better partners, nicer clothes… the list goes on and on and on. Before you know it, life is never going to be enough for you. Ultimately, you wind up denying happiness at your doorstep because of your never-ending desires.
This is where keeping a gratitude journal becomes handy because it hones in on the things that are truly, deeply important to you after a while. You may jot your thoughts down in a physical notebook or choose from dozens of free mobile apps available.
Before you get started on this little exercise, here are some tips to help you along:
- Remember to do it at least once a week
It takes a few weeks to turn this into a habit and start reprogramming the way you perceive life. This is not unlike how you need to hit the gym four times a week and stick to a healthy diet to see any kind of weight loss.A crucial thing to be mindful of is not to just do it without thought, or superficially list a million items that don’t mean that much to you. For better results, set your intention (perhaps to be a happier, more contented soul) before you start journaling, and zoom in on just one or two points each day.
- It may feel unnatural at first and that’s okay
If you’ve never done it before, it may seem a little odd, especially when it seems like an uneventful period or even a terrible one, which brings us to the next point.
- See the positive in the negative (This is so important!)
You don’t have to strike the lottery or enjoy a job promotion to feel thankful. The idea is to see the good in even the most unexpected scenarios. A personal example to raise would be the one morning my shoulders were caught in between the lift doors at my apartment building due to a faulty sensor. I was infinitely grateful that I was the one between the doors instead of my very young children who entered the lift before I did. Yet another time, the taxi I was in almost collided with another car on the road. The first thing that came to mind was, “Thank goodness my kids aren’t here”.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a week or simply draw blanks at times
It doesn’t mean you have failed – you are just being human. Acknowledge any negative feelings that arise in you, and try to see the light in your situation (refer to point 3). If what you are facing comes from deep-set fears, try listing down all of them. Cast out the illogical, ridiculous fears that have no factual basis, and work out steps to conquer the others (eg. If you are worried about retiring poor, start setting aside a small amount of money every day that you can’t touch. Every little effort counts.)