Three days ago, I decided to create an e-Course. Clearly, I have too much time on my hands, despite rushing around with a virtual hosepipe, desperately trying to put out the pre-publication fires springing up left right and centre as I prepare for the publication of my latest book “Embrace Change in 10 minutes a day – Simple Strategies, Smart Suggestion and Insight-giving Stories about Stress Management during Life Transitions,” on the 8th of June (TOMORROW!)
My mother-in-law asked yesterday me what I talk about in this book. I couldn’t manage to string two meaningful sentences together. Haven’t had time to come up with an elevator pitch. I managed to explain that my book is about dealing with the stress generated by life transitions by keeping a gratitude and generosity journal. Still not quite right. Never mind, the perfect elevator pitch will come to me at 02h30 one morning. Soon, I hope.
What I want to do is to inspire my readers to get into the habit of counting their blessings and to list these blessings in a gratitude journal, every day so that they can claim the physical, psychological and social benefits that gratitude journaling can afford them.
The problem is, people often start keeping journals with the best of intentions, but give up within days, or at most weeks. I did a simple survey to find out why people stopped journaling. Below you’ll find a list of reasons as well as suggestions for keeping this from happening to you.
A good number of would-be journal keepers said that they did not have enough time to keep a diary. I asked how much time they thought they should spend writing in their diary, and most said they thought they would have to spend about 30 minutes every day. We know now that even 10 minutes of gratitude journalling a day can be beneficial. To make it easier, I suggested using the bullet-point method of keeping a journal, journaling while commuting, standing in a cue, waiting for someone to arrive at a meeting etc. or if it is impossible to find time during the week, journaling only at the weekend.
As John C. Maxwell said, “Give more of what you want. Although it may sound counterintuitive, one of the best ways to increase your abundance is to give. Don’t feel like you have enough time? Slip away from your obligations, even if just for an hour, to help someone in need. Don’t feel like you have enough money? Give to someone less fortunate. In other words, be a river, not a reservoir. Giving is sure to put you in a more abundant and appreciative frame of mind.”
Some people said that they have started keeping journals in the past, but after a few days, a week or a month, got bored and gave up. Perfectly understandable. The way to get around this is by varying your gratitude practice. In “Embracing Change – in 10 minutes a day,” I list a variety of different ways to express your gratefulness, like going for a gratitude walk, writing a gratitude letter or joining a gratitude circle. Alternating between various methods will keep your gratitude practice fresh.
Some people’s inner critics tell them that they will never be any good at journaling, that they will never be able to keep it up, that they have nothing to be grateful for anyway…If your inner critic tells you that you are no good at anything, in a misguided attempt to keep you from doing something that might upset you, turn the volume down. First, identify the culprit, thank it for its concern and then reassure it that you have got this. Don’t allow your inner critic to keep you imprisoned in your comfort zone.
Other people said they eventually gave up on journalling because they couldn’t get it right; in other words, they are perfectionists. These are the people who have to find the perfect journal to write in before they can even start, who have to spend 10 minutes journaling every day and never miss a day, who spell-check and grammar-adjust every journal entry a million times and who beat themselves up mercilessly if they should fail to reach their own impossibly high standards. Sigh. Life’s too short, honestly. You will not get more benefit from gratitude journaling if you keep a perfect journal, or less if you do not.
These days, confidentiality is a serious issue. If you are worried your journal might fall into the wrong hands, lock it up when you are not using it. Or set a password for the computer file you are using for your diary. You probably already have a different password for your phone, computer, tablet etc. Secure your journal as you would any other confidential document.
And then there is procrastinatiooooooooooon. You make up your mind to start journaling tomorrow. Tomorrow, you never get round to it. Nor the next day, other the day after or the day after that. You do get life-and-death chores done, so maybe journaling is just not a priority for you. Make it a priority. Decide never to go to sleep again until you have spent 10 minutes listing your blessings. Considering the various benefits of gratitude journaling, it is well worth it.
Yet other people start journaling, bursting with enthusiasm, but find that they quickly lose their motivation to continue when the benefits are not immediately apparent. Not all the benefits of gratitude journaling are evident from the first day that you start journaling. Some of the benefits, especially the health benefits, take longer to manifest. If you get easily discouraged, bookmark an article that discusses the scientific proof that gratitude is good for you and reread it from time to time.
Sometimes, life happens. Everything that can go wrong, does. At the same time. You may feel you are too stressed to journal. Journaling reduces stress, so now is the most critical time to journal. Ever! Even if you think that you have absolutely nothing to be grateful for; do not neglect your gratitude journaling. There is always something to be thankful for, even it is only that you are still alive. Ponder your gratitude and generosity quotes, review your empowering affirmation and use your daily gratitude prompt to help you find something to be grateful for (subscribe to my “From Stress to Serenity with Gratitude and Generosity” e-Course)
Unsuitable Journaling Method
Writing in a gratitude journal every day is not for everyone. Luckily there are many other ways to keep a gratitude journal. You could keep a photographic gratitude journal and add one or more pictures of what you are grateful for every day. You can create a Pinterest Gratitude board, and add pins of what you appreciate daily. You could keep a gratitude scrapbook, and add the ticket to that movie that you are so grateful that you were able to see, or the cashier slip of the dress you were finally able to buy after saving weeks for it, etc. If you prefer drawing or painting, you could make a gratitude diary by drawing or painting.
Other people constantly complain that they keep forgetting to write in their journals. Assuming that this is not a procrastination problem, the solution is obvious. All you have to do is to connect your new habit to one that is already firmly entrenched, like drinking your first cup of coffee/tea every morning, or just before or after you brush your teeth, or just after you have taken the dog for his walk. It also helps to make yourself accountable – to sign a statement committing to journaling for at least 6 weeks (I have included a simple Commitment Statement in my e-Course) or commit to tweeting/posting on your Facebook profile or in a Facebook group every day. This way, you will inspire others to do the same.
A good number of people say that they do not want to journal because they cannot write. Their spelling is terrible; their grammar leaves a lot to be desired; their sentences make no sense to anyone but themselves. So what? No law says your gratitude journal must be entirely devoid of spelling/grammar mistakes! If you really want to, you can do spell-check, just don’t become obsessive about it. You are writing your gratitude journal for you, so that you can look back through it during difficult times and remind yourself of all you still have that you appreciate. It only needs to make sense to you.
If I am going to help anyone, I need to find a way to motivate them to keep on journaling, every day, for the rest of their lives. That is why I created first the free 7-day e-course; a series of 7 simple e-mails with a daily gratitude prompt, motivating and inspiring gratitude and generosity quotes, an empowering affirmation and a call to action. If there is enough interest in this course, I would like to create an all-singing-all-dancing ”Grounded in Gratitude and Generosity” e-course, lasting 21 days, to help readers of “Embracing Change” to put the principles I discuss in the book into practice.