A few years ago I finally took a friend’s advice and started keeping a gratitude journal. Now, anyone who grew up in the Oprah age knows about gratitude journals and I was no exception, but I’d started and stopped many, many times and truth be told the only reason I started a few years ago was because I was so stuck in my life and so out of my own ideas as to how to turn things around, that I was willing to do things I’d never done in order to get a result I’d never had. Creating a gratitude practice did indeed turn my life around, and I’ve kept up the practice for almost three years now, with no intention to stop!
First, here’s the how.
Buy a cheap composition book and every night for 30 days, write an entire page of gratitudes. Scan your day for things to be grateful for, and write each one down. Keep going until you’ve filled up the page. One whole page, no matter what. This will train you to start digging, really looking for reasons to be grateful. This is a practice, right?
If you get stuck, get really basic. If your legs work, be grateful that your legs work. If you’ve eaten today, be grateful for the food that sustained you. If you made it through today’s audition without literally falling out of your nude heels and onto your face in front of Bernie Telsey, that’s worth writing. If you nailed said audition, that’s totes worth writing too!
Tip: Try different ways to start the sentence. I used to only write “I’m grateful that…” and that’s fine; after a while I wanted to consciously notice where others are impacting me, so I would start my sentences “I’m grateful to…” or “I’m grateful for…” Anything you write is great, and see what happens when you write different prompts.
- “I’m grateful that I didn’t literally fall out of my nude heels and onto my face in front of Bernie Telsey today.”
- “I’m grateful to Aaron for making the time to coach me on my callback material today, even though I know his schedule is slammed and he totally didn’t have to fit me in.”
- “I’m grateful for the opportunity to go to EPA’s and build relationships with all these casting directors even though I don’t have an agent yet.”
Can you feel the difference?
Advanced practice: After a while, you may want to expand your ability to have gratitude in your life, and you will be ready to start practicing gratitude for things that didn’t go the way you wanted them to go. This will shake you up in a great way because you’ll start to let go of chasing HAPPINESS (a feeling based on circumstances) and start living in JOY (an attitude that defies circumstances). Like, whoa.
- “I’m grateful to John for saying no to my request so I could get creative about how to get this thing done.”
- “I’m grateful that I fell out of my nude heels and onto my face in front of Bernie Telsey, and that he lifted his eyebrows and said, ‘Nude heels, huh?’ I’ve been meaning to get rid of those awful things. A black ankle boot is a way better audition shoe anyway!”
And now, the why.
Gratitude is good for you.
“The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. And gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions: Sure, you might express gratitude after receiving a promotion at work, but you can also be thankful for something as simple as a delicious piece of pie. Research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal—regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful—can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.” ~ “The Science of Gratitude (and How it can Change Your Life” by Derrick Carpenter, MAPP
And for those of you who respond better to what not practicing gratitude does, here’s a doozy for you. When you practice gratitude, you digest the events of your life in a very specific way that allows you to orient yourself toward gratitude and subsequently, you increase your capacity for gratitude (and things to be grateful for also begin to expand in your life – magical and true).
When you don’t practice gratitude, you orient yourself away from it. You don’t see reasons to be grateful as easily. As a teacher of mine once said, “Your inability to express the extraordinary causes your experience of it to atrophy.”
In other words…
“Unacknowledged good turns to sh*t.” ~ Regena Thomashauer, teacher and founder of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts
Ready? Go for it!
For extra credit, share your gratitude practice with me on social media! Use #gratituderocks and be sure to tag me @maggiehollinbeck so I can see it and celebrate with you!