An Attitude of Gratitude
What do you think about before bed? Studies have shown that what you focus on before turning in can affect your overall stress level and promote a greater sense of calm through the night. Admittedly I had never given much thought to this idea until about a month ago, after one too many sleepless nights.
At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to test these findings for myself and start a gratitude journal. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have never been much of a journal person. And many times I can barely read my own hand-writing three minutes after I’ve written something down. But I decided to throw caution to the wind, put aside any misgivings and “try on” a gratitude journal for size.
Admittedly this was a shift in consciousness. Like many, my evening ritual consisted not only of planning and prepping for the next day, but also focusing on (or dare I say obsessing about) my never-ending list of things to do. At first moving my thoughts away from the “countless things I must do” to the “5 things I am grateful for” seemed unnatural, if not forced. And occasionally my friend skepticism would rear her ugly head. But I kept at it and before I knew it…Those pesky, gremlin feelings started to dissipate as this practice started to become less of a chore and more of a habit (the healthy kind)! In fact, I began to make a game of it, challenging myself to write down more – even after “those” kind of days. Suffice to say that since I have started, I have consistently had a better nights’ sleep and have woken up feeling more refreshed most mornings. Hence this post and my desire to share some of my best practices for making this work.
Go old school.
I strongly recommend writing things down rather than typing them in. What a concept these days, I know. But there’s something about the physical act of writing things down that allows us to better connect to what it is that we are recording and better retain the information. Find a pretty notebook that inspires you to fill it. While you’re at it, look for a pen that feels good in your hand. Just like with most things, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
Commit to doing this on a consistent basis.
I know that it’s easy to let things slide, especially the things we do for ourselves. So go ahead and schedule the time in your calendar, as you would any other important appointment or event. Consider journaling nightly or every other night so that you can quickly make this a habit. Remember this need not take long…just a few minutes of concentration and appreciation.
Judge less, appreciate more.
Try not to filer what you write down. Instead list the first things that come to mind without worrying if they are “worthy.” From a delicious cup of coffee to a stranger saying “excuse me” to the opportunity to leave your desk at lunch…if something large or small brought you joy, it’s worthy. Even on a rough day, try to come up with at least 4-5 things to acknowledge. The very intention of you looking for the good in people or everyday things/occurrences will put you in a more positive frame of mind.
Look under the bed.
What I mean by this is that gratitude can often come from unexpected places. Rather than just tallying up all the good, another great way to stimulate gratitude is to consider what your life would be without certain blessings. Perhaps you might also look – and be grateful – for the positive side of seemingly negative situations. For example, when I broke my foot last year I found myself actually being grateful for the downtime (literally and figuratively) to work on my re-branding. Another example is that every time I am challenged with juggling multiple projects, I make it a point to be grateful for a robust business. And this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway…In addition to looking at everything and everyone around you, don’t’ forget to be grateful for yourself, your health and your abilities. (Funny how we sometimes forget about ourselves!)
Bottom line: A gratitude journal offers you an uplifting and consistent reminder of the people, experiences and things in your life that bring you joy. So why not take a few minutes each evening and give a gratitude journal a try? And who knows… one of the things you may be grateful for is a better night’s sleep!
Carol Davidson is style strategist, life coach and fellow Tomato. She helps people better manage their lives, create fulfillment and develop a plan to love their look and their life. Her expertise has helped hundreds tackle their careers and personal lives with confidence and enthusiasm. To learn more about her wardrobe and life coaching services and how you can work with her virtually or in person, please reach out to her at Carol@CarolDavidson.com. For more lifestyle tips and shopping picks, please visit Carol on FB: Carol Davidson Life Style Strategy and follow her on Twitter @CarolDavidson.