How My Gratitude Journal Has Made Life More Fulfilling and Fun

“Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be genuine. But most of all, be thankful.” ~Unknown

Have you ever tried to keep a daily journal?

How long did you last?

I’ve tried to keep one many times in my life, and I have failed every time. The longest I’ve ever kept a journal was for a measly two weeks, in a Google Doc, with my college roommates as a way to keep in touch, before I got bored and stopped.

For the last four months, though, I’ve managed to write in my journal every day. The trick, for me, has been to keep my updates short and sweet and to write less about my daily problems, which tends to make me feel hopeless and overwhelmed instead of relieved, and more about the things I love in daily life.

I keep a gratitude journal, and it isn’t a drag, like my past diaries. It’s fun and makes me laugh because I limit myself to writing about only two types of things: moments of gratitude and moments of triumph, or wins, as I call them. Occasionally, and I mean only when something bothers me so much that I can’t sleep, I rant.

Keeping the journal has changed my life, and it’s good value too! Doing it costs me less than five minutes and five dollars, depending on the brand of pen I buy (I’m a sucker for Pentel Energel pens).

If you’re looking for ways to integrate more gratitude into your life, I can definitely recommend keeping a gratitude journal. I’ve benefited from it in five specific ways, probably more. Here’s how:

1. I enjoy spending time with loved ones more and see our challenging moments differently.

I recently realized that one of the impacts of losing my mom is a constant fear of losing other people I love. My mom died five years ago, and I feel anxious about eventually losing my dad all the time. It puts a lot of pressure on me to be fully present for every moment we spend together and to be the perfect daughter.

Here’s an example: My dad and I see a movie together, and I’ll periodically say to myself throughout the film “This could be the last movie we see together. You need to appreciate every moment!”

It’s a pressure that will always be part of me, but I write in my gratitude journal because I refuse to let it control my life.

Writing things like, “I’m grateful that I got to see a movie with Dad today,” relaxes me. It’s like giving myself permission to enjoy the movie because I know that I’m not letting the moment mindlessly slip by.

My gratitude journal also helps me reframe the challenging moments I have with my dad. For example, I recently wrote, “My win today was setting aside my ego and communicating with Dad after we got into an argument over cleaning out old things.”

Now, instead of seeing confrontations as disasters to be avoided, I see them as opportunities for us to communicate and strengthen our relationship.

2. I can find rest, even when I’m upset.

When I was little, my mom predicted that I would become a sensitive person because I had a big forehead. I have yet to find scientific proof of the relationship between the two, but I’m definitely passionate and I can take certain things very personally.

What bothers me most is when people don’t follow through on their work. “How can they not have told me that they’d send it to me late?” becomes, “It’s so easy! I would’ve done that for them,” which then becomes, “I don’t trust this person anymore.”

When I hop onto this train of thought, it’s hard to hop off and it weighs me down as I struggle over how and when to express my frustration.

Writing in my journal every day helps me deal with the disappointments of daily life. It’s a safe space to rant about whatever is upsetting me. I do a big release of built-up anger and frustration on paper, and then I think critically about a solution to the problem.

Not too long ago, I furiously wrote about an especially frustrating day at work and, while writing, realized that I had been doing everything right; I just wasn’t receiving the support I needed. Moreover, I saw that it was my responsibility to ask for it. I never would have come to this realization without journaling about it first.

When I finish ranting and raving, and regain some feeling of control over the situation, I say to myself, “Okay, are you ready to move on?” And I write down one thing, no matter how small, to be grateful for. For example, “I’m grateful to my heart, for pushing oxygen to the rest of my body,” or, “I”m grateful for that awesome chocolate chip cookie I ate for dessert.”

It’s my way of ending each day on a good note, and it prepares me for sleep.

3. I wholeheartedly accept joy.

In her Netflix special, “The Call to Courage,” Brené Brown says, “…joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions. We are terrified to feel joy. We are so afraid that if we let ourselves feel joy, something will come along and rip it away from us…” (00:45:49).

I love traveling. I’ve been traveling since I was two and have since been to over twenty different countries. Every time I go somewhere, I’m so overjoyed that I fear something bad happening. I might worry about the plane crashing or an accident happening at home while I’m away, both of which I hope I never have to experience.

Another example is when I brave unnecessary hardship and call it the price I have to pay for something else, which is often completely unrelated.

Brown’s research says that we wait for the other shoe to drop to protect ourselves from joy, which is one of the most vulnerable emotions along with love and belonging.

Writing in my gratitude journal enables me to feel joy without the sense of foreboding. If something good happens to me, I no longer see it as a foreshadowing event to disaster. I just see it as another item to be added to the list of wins or moments of gratitude in my journal, which I can (and should) enjoy.

4. I am deepening my commitment to certain people and activities.

My gratitude journal helps me cope with the uncontrollable outcomes I face in everyday life, but it also helps me make healthy decisions about the activities and people I engage with.

For example, after keeping my journal for several months, I noticed I was often grateful for my yoga practice and my public speaking and leadership club, Boston Toastmasters.

As a result, I decided to increase my commitment to both activities. Instead of practicing yoga weekly, I now practice daily. I also recently ran for (and won!) an officer position at my Toastmasters club.

Certain family members and close friends also make regular appearances in my gratitude journal. It reminds me to maintain our relationship and actively update them about my life, even if they live in another state—or country!

I like having a record of interactions, activities, and people that bring joy or wins; it brings some very important parts of my life into focus.

5. I am more satisfied with myself and my accomplishments.

Historically, I’ve been my own harshest critic. Some days, when I refuse to believe that I’ve done enough, I spread myself too thin and completely exhaust myself.

I was recently awarded a scholarship to go to journalism school. But everyone I shared the news with said something like, “Oh, journalists don’t make much money, you know.” Gee, thanks!

I started doubting myself, thinking, “How will I take care of myself? I can’t believe I decided to go for journalism. Who am I to think I can write, anyway? There’s no way I’ll be able to make a living on it.”

By chance, I happened to see the win I’d recorded the day I’d received my acceptance letter: “Today, I won a scholarship to go to journalism school.”

I may not make a stable living on my writing yet, but I won a lot of money for the one piece I submitted in my application. That’s a big win! And thank goodness I had my gratitude journal to remind me of that; otherwise, I would’ve continued to question my decision, even though I know that this program is exactly what I want to do.

My wins remind me that I’ve done enough, and in most cases, more than enough. If I see proof that I’ve done at least one thing that day to achieve my goals, then I can relax. Recording wins transformed me from being my own toughest critic into one of my biggest cheerleaders.

I’ve written 142 entries, and I’m still going strong! In this short period, gratitude journaling has impacted my life in so many ways.

It’s challenged me to cherish every moment with my family, good or bad. It’s helped me find rest and practice acceptance, especially on difficult days. It’s also become my way to methodically focus and deepen my commitment to certain areas of my life. Most importantly, it has reminded me to celebrate all of my wins, no matter how others see them. It’s changed my life, and it could change yours too.

About Kristen Chin

Kristen Chin is a writer who also loves to give speeches, do improv, and act. She is a proud and very active member of her local Toastmasters club, which is part of the international public speaking and leadership organization, Toastmasters International. Visit her blog, kristenharriet.com, for inspiration on facing fears and courageous living!

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The “Comfort Zoning” Exercise

Asking for what you’re worth, pressing “Publish”, hustling to get booked solid, launching your passion project and hoping it doesn’t meet crickets… there’s plenty for a heart-centered entrepreneur to stress about.

The thing about being in crisis mode is that we can get so spun out we forget where the rip cord is. Where’s your bridge over troubled water? Who ya gonna call? How do you spell relief? Make a list of your soft places to land, so you can refer to it when the going gets rougher than tough.

YOUR SOURCES OF STRENGTH AND COMFORT:

  • When I do the following, I am very likely to feel centered, lighter, focused, inspired…
    Lunch with my best friend, visit to church, texting my mastermind group, a few laps around the lake.

  • When I do the following, I will likely feel a sense of relief…
    Getting in the tub, dancing it out, ommm’ing it out, journaling, silence.

As for downing a carton of cookie dough ice cream, drunk-dialing your former flame, and binge watching… let’s put that “comfort list” in its proper place.

  • Even though I “think” that doing the following things will make me feel good, they actually aren’t very helpful…
    Mindless Instagramming, sneaking a smoke, therapy shopping…

Your heart knows the difference between what soothes your nervous system and what just numbs the pain. @DanielleLaPorte (Click to Tweet!)

In service of your true comfort, and creating from that centered space, get clear on what’s good for you.

Always with Love,

Danielle

Danielle LaPorte is an invited member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100, a group who, in Oprah Winfrey’s words, “is uniquely connecting the world together with a spiritual energy that matters.” She is author of White Hot Truth: Clarity for keeping it real on your spiritual path—from one seeker to another. The Fire Starter Sessions, and The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul—the book that has been translated into 8 languages, evolved into a yearly day planner system, a top 10 iTunes app, and an international workshop program with licensed facilitators in 15 countries. Named one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women” by Forbes, millions of visitors go to DanielleLaPorte.com every month for her daily #Truthbombs and what’s been called “the best place online for kickass spirituality.” A speaker, a poet, a painter, and a former business strategist and Washington-DC think tank exec, Entrepreneur Magazine calls Danielle, “equal parts poet and entrepreneurial badass…edgy, contrarian…loving and inspired.” Her charities of choice are Eve Ensler’s VDay: a global movement to end violence against women and girls, and charity: water, setting out to bring safe drinking water to everyone in the world. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her favourite philosopher, her son. You can find her @daniellelaporte and just about everywhere on social media.

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4 Differences between Bosses & Leaders (Which Are You?)

Consider this question: Are you a boss or are you a leader? Understanding the differences between bosses vs. leaders will help you become a better manager, business owner, teacher, trainer, coach, parent, even a better spouse.

To start off, when I say “boss,” I’m talking about the kind of manager whose leadership strategies are all about command and control.

Bosses want to be seen as the dominant force in the office and business and tend to “manage” their employees through intimidation and fear.

They have a very “top-down” way of doing things and think it’s more important to be in control of their team rather than to establish trust and inspiration.

Often, a boss’s management style is very rigid. There’s no nuance, no ability to see different sides of an issue.

The boss declares, “I’m in charge” and “I’ve decided this” and “I expect that” – without encouraging any input from their team. It’s the boss’s way or the highway.

Of course, big decisions need to be made all the time in business, and being decisive is necessary and important.

But when a boss insists on making all the decisions on his or her own, and never asks for ideas or feedback from the team, it makes employees feel undervalued, like they have no useful contributions to make. And that will make them feel discouraged and disconnected from the success of the organization.

Learning the four major differences between the two will make you an even more effective and respected leader.

1. Leaders Inspire

Leaders don’t command – they inspire.

Instead of making declarative statements of how things will be done, the leader asks for input and then provides a compelling vision that others are eager to get behind because they see their own ideas and input reflected in it. Leaders then give the team the tools, the confidence, and the support they need to do their best work.

As a result, they end up feeling more ownership and connection to the organization’s success.

2. They are Transparent and Open

Leaders are transparent and open. Bosses usually only tell employees things on a “need-to-know” basis. Information is power and bosses, often fueled by their own insecurities, will hoard and keep it to themselves.

They see information as currency, a commodity to be doled out to those who are worthy, and in return for other benefits.

It’s a short-sighted strategy and one that often breeds suspicion and distrust.

Transparency is a powerful leadership quality. That’s why leaders take a more open and honest approach to their management.

They understand that they don’t have all the answers. So they share what information they have and open it up for discussion because they know that sharing information and then seeking feedback and input from others invites new perspectives, new ways of thinking, and new solutions.

Leaders understand that people want to be valued. They want to know that their efforts, insights, and ideas are recognized and appreciated.

Leaders who practice open-book management (meaning that everyone has access to all the financial information- salaries, expenses, and profits) send a signal to their employees that they are an important member of the team, and that their contributions matter.

Not only that – they show that they’re open to and willing to consider multiple options and different approaches. What a powerful message to send!

3. Leaders Take Responsibility

Bosses tend to blame others when things go wrong. “It’s my staff who failed to get the job done, so it’s not my fault that it didn’t work out.”

On the flip side of that, bosses are also more likely to take credit for work that they didn’t do. “If it’s my staff that did the good work,” they rationalize, “then I deserve the credit for being in charge.”

The result of this kind of boss behavior is that it creates a culture of fear and uncertainty, in which employees know that the hammer will fall on them if the expected results are not produced. That’s no way to build loyalty, forge a positive work environment, or develop a team.

Leaders are different…

They take responsibility for everything that goes wrong and gives their team all the credit when things go right.

Leaders know that it’s their job to make sure the path is clear of obstacles so that the team can be successful. Leaders roll up their sleeves and get to work. They don’t just sit in an office, waiting for people to report to them. They make themselves available to solve problems, to offer support, or to jump in to help with the work.

4. Leaders Listen to Their Employees

Leaders listen to their employees and let them know that they’re being heard. Leaders care about the opinions and ideas of the people on their team. They encourage their team to express their thoughts without fear of criticism or judgment.

Not only that, leaders know that by listening actively to their team, they will be more likely to recognize patterns that emerge, address unspoken concerns that may exist, and provide the necessary clarity to help their team do their best work.

So, now that you know the difference between a boss and a leader, which one would you say you are? And what can you do to become an even more effective leader – in your office, your business, your profession, or even in your family?

Remember, the way you act and interact with others will determine whether you’re seen as a “boss” or a “leader.” @JackCanfield (Click to Tweet!)

I promise you that when you focus on being a true leader rather than an authoritarian boss, you will find it so much easier to earn respect and deliver better outcomes for your team and your organization.

Who are some of the leaders you have worked with, and what qualities did they have that made them such a great leader to work with? Take this free leadership quiz to uncover your inner leadership potential.

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul® series, Jack Canfield fostered the emergence of inspirational anthologies as a genre—and watched it grow to a billion dollar market. As the driving force behind the development and delivery of over 100 million books sold through the Chicken Soup for the Soul® franchise, Jack Canfield is uniquely qualified to talk about success. Jack is America’s #1 Success Coach and wrote the life-changing book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Jack speaks around the world on this subject. Check out his newest book The 30-Day Sobriety Solution: How to Cut Back or Quit Drinking in the Privacy of Your Own Home. Follow Jack at www.jackcanfield.com and sign up for his free resources today!

Image courtesy of You X Ventures.

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Why we need to fight misinformation about vaccines | Ethan Lindenberger

Ethan Lindenberger never got vaccinated as a kid. So one day, he went on Reddit and asked a simple question: "Where do I go to get vaccinated?" The post went viral, landing Lindenberger in the middle of a heated debate about vaccination and, ultimately, in front of a US Senate committee. Less than a year later, the high school senior reports back on his unexpected time in the spotlight and a new movement he's leading to fight misinformation and advocate for scientific truth.
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Everyone Should Hear This Advice

When I was a kid, and often now, I felt ugly and different.

Not just for my looks.

But my thoughts, the things that I was interested in that other kids weren’t.

My beliefs.

And, of course, acne, braces, glasses, wild hair, unathletic, didn’t care about sports, was bullied.

I loved TV for often giving me an escape. I wanted to talk to my TV and climb into its world.

And I guess I still do.

This advice came out in 1965… and it’s still so important for all of us to hear.

All I’ll say is… Herman Munster is wise beyond his years.

James Altucher is the author of the bestselling book Choose Yourself, editor at The Altucher Report and host of the popular podcast, The James Altucher Show, which takes you beyond business and entrepreneurship by exploring what it means to be human and achieve well-being in a world that is increasingly complicated. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Katrina.

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