29 Apr 8 ways to have a gratitude practice even if you hate journalling
We all know that being actively grateful has stupendous magical powers.
But one of the biggest sources of resistance that people seem to have around developing a regular gratitude practice goes something like this:
Yeah, I know having a gratitude practice has an amazing impact on my happiness and wellbeing BUT I’M JUST NOT THE JOURNALLING TYPE.
Hang on a minute!?!
So, the reason you’re not taking advantage of all the astonishing power of gratitude is because you don’t like journalling?
Well, my pretty – this blog post has just what you need.
NB: Throughout this post I use the word ‘gratitudes’ as shorthand for ‘the things, people, challenges, blessings or situations that you are grateful for.’
The most important and transformative effects of gratitude happen when you make it into a tangible thing. It just doesn’t have the same impact when it’s only in your head.
But it really doesn’t matter how you get it out of your head and into the world – you don’t even have to consider yourself creative.
By the way, if you don’t consider yourself creative, let me tell you that you are. We all are. It’s part of being human.
“But you said I wouldn’t have to journal” (I can hear you, you know!) – I did say that, however, I thought it was worth just mentioning that writing down your gratitudes doesn’t have to be a big palaver.
I do this almost every day in a little A6 notebook I bought especially. It sits on my desk next to my laptop and it’s the first thing I do when I sit down.
It usually takes about 5 minutes and I feel immeasurably better afterwards.
Bonus tip: no matter how you choose to express your gratitude, it's much more effective to choose one thing you're grateful for and list five reasons why, than it is to choose five separate gratitudes.
Now, this is not about being the best artist in the world. It’s not even about being able to draw. It’s just about making marks on paper.
This is what I did with The Gratitude Project – a weekly painting to express my gratitude.
To start with, simply grab a piece of paper and a pen and scribble a quick sketch of a couple of things you’re grateful for; then add in a few notes or some colour if you feel it’s necessary.
With the meteoric rise of the smart phone, most of us have a camera available to us at all times.
Rather than writing or drawing what you’re grateful for, why not snap a quick picture of it?
You could keep these gratitude pictures in a special folder on your phone or your computer. You could make a digital collage of them for your computer desktop or even print them out and make a physical album.
Personally, I’m an Instagram junkie – all my photographic gratitudes go up on there.
Basically, this boils down to saying (or singing) your gratitudes out loud.
I tend to do this whilst I’m doing housework (especially hoovering) or in the shower.
Alternatively, if you play an instrument or have access to a sound effects library, why not spend some time playing with sound and matching different noises or notes to whatever you’re grateful for and how it makes you feel?
If you’re a budding film maker, a really easy-peasy way to make your gratitude practice tangible is to keep a video diary.
Again, most of us have video cameras built into our phones or computers so it’s dead simple to just press record and capture yourself saying thank you for all the wonderful things in your life.
You could even edit them together at the end of a year and make your own Gratitude Movie – what a great way to cheer yourself up on a dark day!
Strictly speaking, this isn’t actually a ‘vision board’, more of a ‘gratitude board’. This idea works best if you use a pin board as the idea is to add, move and change things around on a regular basis.
Collect mementos which bring your gratitudes to mind and pin them to the board. You could even take a daily/weekly photo of your board to remind you of how the things you’re grateful for change over time.
For the more digitally inclined among you, the same effect could be achieved using something like Pinterest
For those of you who feel like all this creativity is just a bit too much to cope with on a daily basis, why not try anchoring your gratitude practice to movement?
For example, when you go for a walk, try chanting your gratitudes in rhythm with your steps. Or if you like yoga, breathe your gratitudes into your poses. You can do this in your head or under your breath.
The same thing works for dancing, jogging, cycling, even running up the stairs has a rhythm!!
Finally, and this is a really good one if you have a family or if you’re in a really foul mood, try talking about all the things you’re grateful for with a friend or partner.
It’s a lovely thing to do over coffee with your partner, first thing in the morning, just to spend a few minutes talking about what each of you is grateful for.
It’s also a fantastic way to introduce kids to the idea of gratitude. Perhaps try it out around the dinner table some time.
If you'd like to find out more about how gratitude saved my life (and my sanity) you can read my book. The Gratitude Project: A Year of Saying Thank You to the People Who Changed My Life is now available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and all other Amazon Europe stores.