When is the last time you took a moment to stop and think about what you’re thankful for?
Or, how often do you take the time to actually sit and write it down? If you asked me this question two years ago, I would probably have said never. And guess what? Two years ago, I was insecure. I was overweight. I was unhealthy. I was living the life I “thought” I should be living, rather than the life I wanted to be living. Anyone else ever feel this way?
Here’s the peculiar part of this picture: At that time, I didn’t realize how unhappy I actually was. I had great friends and family. I was at a college I loved. I was about to move to the city of my dreams and work in the industry I had worked my ass off to get into. That sounds like happiness, right?
Since I graduated college, I’ve learned more than ever that just because you’re not unhappy doesn’t mean you’re truly living your best life. Sure, that may seem daunting, but in my opinion, it’s exciting. Think about it this way: Whether you consider yourself to be happy or unhappy, there’s always room for growth. You can always be happier. Healthier. Stronger. In my opinion, happiness is a choice, and a huge part of how I found mine is such a simple yet highly underrated practice: gratitude.
Now, you may be thinking, “Practice? Gratitude is a noun, not a verb. It’s a thing, it’s not something you do.” This was my hesitation at first as well. How can something as small as gratitude be practiced regularly, like brushing your teeth or going to the gym?
I came across the concept of practicing gratitude and making it part of my everyday routine after reading an incredible book called The Secret. The Secret is a book that focuses on energy—both good and bad—and how it can affect your life in ways you could have never imagined. In the book, the author Rhonda Byrne explains the law of attraction. We’ve all heard about karma and the concept of, “what goes around comes around,” but the law of attraction is less about your actions and more about your perspective. Think more, “you are your thoughts” rather than “you are your actions.”
In the book, Byrne explains that a great way to use the law of attraction is through gratitude. It’s simple: The more you consciously say, think, and feel excited about the things that you have to be grateful for, the more they will manifest in your life. Whether it be an emotional thing like friendship and love or physical things like a house, job, or car, by practicing gratitude each day, the law of attraction can bring you…well…anything you want.
Sounds crazy and kind of, “living in never-never land” ish, I know. But then I started doing my research. Ever heard of how Jim Carrey became who he is today? He used gratitude, a positive outlook, and the law of attraction to make himself a millionaire. He tells the full story during an interview on Oprah. Once you find his story, it’s easy to fall down a rabbit-hole of countless others just like it. Needless to say, I did just that, and that was enough for me to become fully invested in the concept and practice it as much as I could.
After finishing The Secret I frantically began my search for things that would keep me in the right mindset. Calendar markers, vision boards, and brand new notebooks filled my search history. It wasn’t long before I had a vision board in my tiny New York Apartment in Nolita, a rock that I carried around with me to constantly remind me to be thankful, and a journal I wrote in every morning and night. My gratitude journal is The Five Minute Journal, and this journal, along with my other law-of-attraction rituals, have undoubtedly changed my life.
Let me use my Five Minute Journal as an example of how. This journal is designed to help you practice gratitude daily by taking five minutes to write down what you’re thankful every morning and night. Here’s how it’s laid out:
First, the journal presents you with an inspirational quote or challenge. (This quote has become more of a daily reminder than an inspiration for me.) It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget why you are even doing what the hell you’re doing; we all need a little reminder every once in a while.
Then, the journal prompts you to list three things you are grateful for. After that, it asks you to write down three things that would make the day great. If you’re writing down what would make the day great, you’re more likely to do anything to make them all happen, right? That’s where the magic happens. By doing this you’re setting yourself up for success first thing in the morning.
The next part of the morning journaling is my favorite: it tells you to write your daily affirmations. If you’re unfamiliar with what this means, here are some helpful prompts. Finish these sentences:
By saying things like, “I have the best job in the world,” or, “I’m healthy, happy, and strong,” it’s manifesting these things and making them a reality. Whether or not you actually have what you believe to be the best job in the world, by writing down that you do every day, you are taking it out of the future and bringing it into the present. You’re making it real. You’re using the law of attraction.
At the end of the day, the journal gives you two prompts: “3 Amazing things that happened today…” and “How could I have made today even better?”
The first allows you to sit back and recognize the beauty that is life, even if you’ve had the worst day EVER. I’ve gotten dumped, laid off, and sick as hell, and on days like these, this prompt saved my mental state from slipping into a slippery slope of, “whoa is me.” Because even on days where shit hits the fan and life happens, there’s always something to be thankful for; even if it is something as small as “I had a great cup of tea,” or “my commute was three minutes shorter than usual.”
By asking you to reflect on the day and put your life in perspective, the second prompt is setting you up for success BEFORE you even wake up the next day. How badass is that?
Something I want to stress here is that I’m human, and some days are definitely better than others. Sometimes, I wake up late and forget to write in my journal. Sometimes, sad things happen and I just want to cry about them and not only focus on the good. It’s important to feel your feelings and recognize that life is not perfect, and through pain comes growth. However, it’s also important to realize that no matter what happens, happiness is a choice and there is ALWAYS something that makes life worth living. I write more about feeling your feelings and how to do so in a functional way in this post.
In a nutshell, gratitude is all about perspective. If there’s anything I’d like for you to take away from this post, it’s that you get to decide how you are going to receive and react to everything that happens in your life, and you also get to decide what your future looks like. Yes, some things are out of our control. However, by practicing gratitude on a regular basis, you will always feel happy because you will constantly be reminded about how everything that has happened to you has made you better; and you will constantly be reminded that the world is literally at your fingertips. You can have it all.
All you have to do is step back, be thankful for what you have, and allow the universe to shower you with anything you desire.
In good health,