What is the purpose of life? What is the meaning behind it all? Why am I here?
These are questions that I know I and many others think about on a regular basis. But most often, almost all of us get more caught up in our daily tasks & to-do lists, problems, and stress, which can all make it very easy to lose our wholesome perspective.
But no matter what you believe or which religion you practice, you only have one life to live on this Earth as YOU- how are you going to spend your time?
We all know that life moves fast and that our time is limited, so the question should actually be, how are you going to maximize your time?
One of the best answers to this question is the concept of mindfulness, which involves "being aware moment-to-moment, of one’s subjective conscious experience from a first-person perspective" (Wikipedia article below). In other words, one of the most effective ways to slow down and maximize your time is to be present- which to me means living in the moment and appreciating all of the wonderful small things life has to offer.
The concept of mindfulness has recently become more popular and widely accepted as one of the keys to happiness and fulfillment. There are a ton of great materials out there on mindfulness (I included a few resources on mindfulness below), but what I want to focus on more than theory is ACTION: how can you start practicing mindfulness today?
The most effective tool for me, which has had a fast and dramatic impact on my ability to practice mindfulness, has been keeping a daily gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal involves writing down things, people, experiences, and anything else you are grateful for on a daily basis to help you take joy in the small things and consistently be appreciative of what you have or have had. If you are reading this blog post, you have so much to be thankful for- there are so many small things we have that we can easily take for granted. A gratitude journal helps remind us to appreciate our third grade teacher, a coach, our parents, our family, growing up healthy with food and shelter, our health, a college education, a beautiful skyline or a memorable sunset, the smell of freshly mowed grass... By starting each morning appreciating where we've come from and the opportunities we have every day, it becomes difficult not to be happy and grateful for what the day ahead could bring. The journal can also have an amazing effect on prioritization and productivity, helping you realize what is truly important and what can wait.
I made it a goal this year to keep a gratitude journal every day of the year, and am doing really well not just completing daily entries, but realizing the benefits that come with mindfulness. I am inviting you today to start this journey with me and begin living a life of 220 mindfulness, gratitude, and happiness.
- Commit to keeping your gratitude journal. Pick a start date (I recommend today) and pick an end date for a trial period to keep your gratitude journal, no less than 30 days from your start date.
- Select your method. You can create your own, but there are some awesome tools out there that we recommend you at least check out if not purchase:
- Book: The Five-Minute Journal- Normally $28.95 (currently $22.95). Provides an amazing template for you to fill out each morning and every night, including three things you're grateful for and three things that would make today amazing (morning), as well as three amazing things that happened today (night).
- Phone App: Gratitude365- $1.99. Awesome phone app that lets you add unlimited gratitudes and a picture for each day. Try it free for 7 days.
- Carve out time. I highly recommend starting your day with a journal entry. This puts you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day, and if it is part of your morning routine you are much more likely to make it a habit. Revisiting your entries at night and adding new ones before you go to sleep also help you appreciate what happened that day, helping you to wake up in a great mood the next morning.
Give your gratitude journal 30 days reap the rewards of appreciating every moment you have to be you.
P.S. Happy Birthday, Mammer! You have been one of the strongest influences in our lives, and we are so thankful for everything you have done for us. You are a role model for all grandmothers!