Many people keep daily gratitude journals, and they swear by the wonderful changes they attribute to the exercise. Studies suggest the practice makes us healthier, increases happiness, improves sleep, and strengthens positive emotions, along with a host of other perks. But no matter how hard I tried — I could never make this a habit.
The reason finally dawned on me. For me, gratitude creates a negative gut reaction. Weird, right? Let me explain. It feels like writing the obligatory thank you note for the ugly Christmas sweater or the jacket in a color you hate and is two sizes too big. Being grateful also signals a comparison to a period of inadequacy and produces anxiety about the future. For example, I might be thankful for a bonus that lets me repay a debt. Gratitude recalls the past inability to pay the bill and questions your ability to make subsequent payments.
I needed something rooted in the present, and that realization moved me toward appreciation. Appreciation is the “ah” of sinking into a warm bubble bath at the end of a long, stressful day. Appreciation is living in the now, and it requires me to acknowledge the moment. I experience an overwhelming sense of wellbeing as I sip my morning coffee, listen to the birds sing, and revel in the grandeur of a sunrise. Fear, comparisons, and judgment don’t exist. Appreciation benefits my soul.
Do you keep a journal?
Keep on writing.
Jo Hawk The Writer