Find Your Way to “Thanks” Giving
Diana Baysinger, MC
The month of November 2020 is full of milestones. We have the United States Presidential election, the ongoing management of the COVID -19 pandemic, and discovering new ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays. It may seem like an oxymoron to suggest that gratitude is what will nurture us through these milestones and yet, it is the mindset of gratitude that enables us to live with passion and purpose regardless of what is going on in the world around us.
The word gratitude means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what we receive, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, we acknowledge the goodness in our lives. Through the practice of gratitude, we usually recognize that the source of that goodness helps us connect to something larger than ourselves- whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough have done research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on specific topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week and a second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.
In our book, Mindful Loving: A Guide to Loving with Passion and Purpose, we include tools that help individuals and couples enrich their lives and their relationships. Here is one tool designed to develop practices that increase your experience with gratitude.
Create a Mindful Loving Gratitude Journal
Creating a Mindful Loving Gratitude Journal is a tool that helps you focus on what you give thanks for and what you appreciate in your life. Gratitude is food for your soul. Acknowledging and expressing gratitude and appreciation activates the law of attraction – what you give attention to multiplies. The guidelines for using a Mindful Loving Gratitude Journal are simple:
- Get a spiral notebook and tie a pen to the notebook so you will be ready to write in your journal. Couples can share the same journal, make entries, and share them with each other.
- Put the notebook in a convenient place where you spend some alone time every day.
- Every day pick up the notebook and write one or more things that you appreciate in your life. Be specific, creative, and keep it simple and personal. Consider the following examples: “I am so grateful for my health, patience and life.” “I appreciate my partner and feel heard.” “I am grateful for my friends and the times we share together.”
- Another option is to text or email yourself and/or each other with a daily gratitude message.
Make a commitment to write every day. It is important to remember that writing what you appreciate about your life is the gift you give yourself and sharing it with your partner is the gift you give your partner. Your commitment to the practice of keeping a gratitude journal positively affects your life and your relationships.
An additional benefit of using the Mindful Loving Gratitude Journal is reading it on days when you are feeling sad, frustrated, or angry. Flooding your brain with journal entries of gratitude shifts the neurochemistry in the brain and generates a sense of well-being and connection. This practice puts you in a better mood! Focusing on what you appreciate in your life and in relationship helps those things grow and multiply. You are the author of your life and your relationships. Imagine the richness of what you create by capturing your most “thanks” giving experiences.
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