Yesterday marked the end of Week 3 for My Year of Mindfulness. My focus for Weeks 3 and 4 is gratitude. I’ve mentioned before that while planning out my year, I wanted to find a way to make stepping stones into some of the harder stuff. Starting the year with meditation was a great way to ground myself and set an intention for the year. For me, the next stepping stone, is to focus on what I already have and all the things that are going right in my life. The best way to do that is to practice gratitude.
Part of the point of this year, is to learn to focus more on being present. I’m a planner – I like to know what I’m doing, where I’m going, what I need to bring, where I’ll be 5 years from now, you know, that sort of thing. And I think that there is nothing wrong with planning ahead. It’s a good way to stay on top of things and stay organized and be a responsible adult. However, I also struggle with focusing *only* on the future and where I’m going next and what I need to do to get there. Again, nothing wrong with that, except that if I’m directing all my energy toward the future, I can’t enjoy where I am right now. What’s happening right now is meant to be lived and loved and enjoyed. If I don’t enjoy myself along the way, then I’m always just waiting for the next thing. I find myself limiting my own joy because I haven’t reached a certain milestone or goal yet.
The best way I know to break the thought cycle of obsessing over the future and what I don’t have or haven’t accomplished yet is to shift my thinking and concentrate on what I do have and what I am grateful for. There is so much research out now linking gratitude to joy. And I’m all about incorporating more joy into my life.
Over the past week I have been experimenting with gratitude journaling. In the past when I have done gratitude journaling, I listed out 3 things at the end of each day that I was grateful for. This was a really great starting point for me, but as I kept up the practice, it was very easy to just repeat some of the same things on days I was feeling less inspired and soon I became lazy and just wrote things down without really even thinking about them.
This past week, I’ve changed the timing my gratitude journaling to both morning and evening. Each day takes a full page and looks like this:
This method has me start the day already grateful and set an intention for how I want to feel that day. Then I end the day on a good note by listing positive things that happened. So far this has helped me really put thought into what I’m grateful for and why and I feel like I am being a lot more intentional with how I want this to impact how I feel.
Going into Week 4, here’s the game plan:
- To continue to use gratitude to stay in the present moment and find joy
- To start to build an abundance mindset – where what I have is enough
Mindfulness in Action:
- Start a gratitude jar for the year
- Continue gratitude journal
- Send thank you notes to people who have made an impact on my life
What I’m reading:
I’m currently still working on Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown, but I’ve almost got it finished. Next on the list, and super appropriate for these two weeks, is The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan.
Tune in next week for an update on Week 4! Do you have a gratitude practice? How do you stay present?