As we share our gratitude (and turkey) with friends and family, I just wanted to say thank you to all of you for reading this blog, and for supporting our journey.
Writing here is always a learning experience, and I have grown so much through sharing our lives and the lessons in this space. I hope that I can continue to be of service to you.
How was your week? Did you keep up with your gratitude journal?
I did – even if it wasn’t until the next day some days! I have to admit that keeping a gratitude journal at night was a lot harder than I thought it would be, and this coming week, I’m going to try doing it as part of my morning routine.
Let’s talk a bit about habits.
According to Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit, there are three parts to a habit: the trigger, the actual action, and the reward. Understanding this, helps us to build new habits. Here it is, applied to my gratitude project.
- The trigger. So, if I want to start writing a gratitude journal daily, the trigger could be after I brush my teeth, I write in my journal for a few minutes before turning off the light. The trigger should be consistent for this to work. For example, I brush my teeth every night. I don’t watch a movie every night. Brushing teeth – good trigger; watching a movie – not a good trigger)
- The habit. Writing in my journal.
- The reward. Intrinsic rewards are best, and rewards can be small. For most of my habits, the satisfaction of checking it off my list has been enough. I know that the rewards for writing a gratitude journal are many – including physical health, self-esteem, and mental strength. (See this Psychology Today article.)
I think the reward is where my problem starts. Since I’ve already checked my list for the day by the time I go to bed, I didn’t get the quick satisfaction of the checkbox and growing streak that I get for my other habits. (I use an app called Habit List for that.)
Since I have a great morning routine, I’m thinking of writing my gratitude journal in the morning this week. I’ll let you know how it goes.
How about you? Is gratitude becoming a habit?
Want to be more present?
Want to be more content?
Want more joy?
Start a gratitude practise.
I believe in gratitude.
Gratitude vaccinates us against discontent, entitlement, the endless desire to keep up with the Joneses.
I’m probably actually a tiny bit fanatical on this subject. When my kids get an attack of the gimmes, I make them talk about what they already have. I ask them about the things for which they are thankful at dinner.
I use gratitude to stop myself in my tracks when I’m feeling discouraged, or when we get bad news. “I didn’t get x opportunity, but I’m so grateful that I got to try. I have learned to do this better.”
It has become the conversations we have when things get tough, it has become the way we make a tight budget feel spacious, and it has been the one habit that saves me from a downward spiral during the crazy ups and downs of expat life and culture shock.
However, I have never actually kept a gratitude journal. I want to write these things down to make my habit of gratitude more concrete and enable me to look back on these days and remember all the grace I’ve been given. So, since public accountability is a great way to start a habit, I thought I would recruit all of you to help. Sign up here.
Why start a gratitude practice?
According to the Greater Good Center at Berkeley, people who practice gratitude consistently experience many benefits:
Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure;
More joy, optimism, and happiness;
More generosity and compassion;
Feeling less lonely and isolated.
Need another reason to join this challenge?
There will be a prize at the end. I’m giving you the book of your choice from my list of favorite life changing books. Amazon will ship it directly to your grateful hands. All you have to do is participate.
Sign up today, and let’s all feel a little more thankful this thanksgiving.