Today, I had a lot of time on my hands to just sit and think. I was waiting in the dentist office, expecting him to dig in and do some emergency surgery (postponed for two days now while I take antibiotics). I was feeling pretty darn negative with a bad case of the “why me’s.” Then it hit me. These things happen but at least
- I have a great dentist.
- I have decent dental insurance that I bought through AARP this year
- It’s not the end of the world
While having a tooth pulled pretty much SUCKS, it really is the anticipation that’s the worst. I had to have one pulled 2 years ago (I had a former dentist who did some things that ruined my teeth) and my dentist is one of the funniest guys that I know. He was messing around in my mouth and said…OK, I’m going to PULL IT NOW! I winced, and he laughed and said “Just kidding, I already pulled it while I was telling you that joke.” It got me thinking that I was thankful that I have good doctors and a support system around me.
I made the natural progression to thinking about creating a gratitude journal
We’ve all been told that creating a gratitude journal helps with mental health, and gives us a new perspective on life when we are feeling weary. For most of us it simply means sitting down with a diary and writing a few paragraphs each day. There are so many ways you can create your gratitude journal that will help you get even more out of this part of your day. I’m listing just a few of them for you here.
Choose a Particular Time of Day for Your Journaling
Setting aside time each day for your gratitude journal will help create doing this as a habit. Once you have been journaling in for a couple of weeks, you will begin to look forward to it. You may find that you begin thinking of things throughout the day that you can write in your gratitude journal, and this will cause your entire day to flow naturally into a more optimistic way.
Have a Set Number of Things to List Each Day
Some people prefer to sit down and write the things they are grateful for each day, and quit when they are finished. This is awesome, but sometimes I find that having guidelines can be helpful (especially to someone like me, who can be a bit scattered). If you tell yourself you will list five things, that will give you time to get into a little more detail on each one, instead of it becoming just a long list. Take time to spend a few minutes thinking about each thing that you write down, and realizing how truly blessed you are to have this person, situation or feeling in your life.
Think Both Big and Small
Don’t feel that the things you are thankful for have to have an earth-shattering presence. You might be thankful for a wide range of things, such as a recent trip to the Caribbean, or something minor like a new pen that fits your hand perfectly. It is in these moments of learning to appreciate a wide variety of what we have, that we begin to feel joyful in anything positive that comes our way.
Turning Negative into Positive
Instead of just listing obviously happy situations and ignoring the negative, try to find the positive within the negative. Even in the most troubling circumstances (like my tooth being pulled) there is good to be found (see above). When we see a disturbing situation on the news, there is always a positive side of people coming together to help each other out. There is always good in humanity that will show itself the strongest when you need it.
Apps to Make It Easier
There are several apps, some free, some for a small fee, that you can download to help you.
- Gratitude Journal is a great app that gives you prompts to list the things that you are thankful for. You can keep your entries private or share them on social media, whatever your preference may be.
- Gratitude Journal 365 is an app where you can add a daily photo to your entry, and view them later on one screen for a beautiful display of the things you appreciate.
Writing in your gratitude journal has been proven to lift your spirits, give you more energy, make you more optimistic about life, and even help with having better physical and mental health. Isn’t it time you start your own and see the difference it can make in your life? I’ll be going out and buying a pretty journal to use tomorrow.