What are you grateful for?

Several years ago my wife challenged me to write in a daily gratitude journal. I am grateful for her and for that challenge. I began writing daily. It was pretty simple and became a habit. It only took about 10 minutes each day and changed my entire life. There is an enormous amount of information available about the psychological, emotional, and physiological effects of expressing gratitude.

Here’s what I did daily.

First thing in the morning I would write down three things I’m grateful for. This could be as simple as being grateful for the first fizzy sip of a soda to something more deep and meaningful. The important part is that I was focused on gratitude for something. I would also write three things that would make today great (things that I could control). Last, I would write a single affirmation statement such as “I am an amazing listener” or “I am focused on the moment” or “I am an amazing father.”

In the evening before bed, I would write down three amazing things that happened during the day. I would also write down one thing I could have done better (as if I had done it) such as “I turned off my phone during peak work hours to stay focused” or “I called my dad to talk to him when I felt impressed to do so.”

Here’s a link to The Five Minute Journal I used to get into the habit. I also use blank notebooks and follow the same pattern. In my blank notebooks, I also add some of my personal variations such as a daily list of a few outlandish far off visionary goals like “Live abroad for an extended time” or “Be a professional tennis commentator.”

Here is a random example of an entry in my gratitude journal from February 3rd, 2018

I am grateful for:

  1. Soreness from a great workout.
  2. Skiing – and especially that my kids ski too.
  3. Disneyland.

What would make today great:

  1. Daddy daughter date with Eva.
  2. Do the laundry.
  3. Exercise and stretch.

Daily affirmation – “I am positive and patient”

Amazing things that happened today:

  1. Rode my bike 20 miles on the trainer.
  2. Spent the day with Eva.
  3. Did ALL the laundry.

How could I have made today even better? – “I watched Max’s ski race.”

This simple habit of a gratitude journal has improved my life. And it only requires a few minutes each day. I always had things to be grateful for, even during the toughest times. I never ran out. In fact, those tough times weren’t quite as tough as they could have been. My mind was trained to see the good, to see gratitude. Before long my whole outlook on life changed. I rarely complained about small annoyances anymore. My mind looked for gratitude at every turn, without effort. My mind was trained to behave that way. It improved my relationships, my work performance, and my physical and emotional health.

In full disclosure, It’s been a few months since I’ve written in my gratitude journal. Funny how something that is so important to us can slip through the cracks. We all know that healthy food, exercise, and sleep are good for us, but sometimes we don’t do it. I’ve done the same with my gratitude journal. That said, I still look for and express gratitude, but I haven’t been writing daily in my gratitude journal. As I drove to the office this morning, I realized it had been too long and I decided to commit again to the daily habit of writing in my gratitude journal.

I challenge you to write in a gratitude journal. Tell me about your experience. I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for.

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randall sparks gratitude journal practice the 5 minute journal fun friday post