For some of us the practice of writing down what we are grateful for feels more like a chore than a blessing. Something happens between the brain and the pen that creates unwelcome friction and anxiety. Forcing gratitude when the act of writing is uncomfortable can actually train the brain to associate gratitude with discomfort – which is definitely not the goal.
Let me ease that anxiety for you. There’s no requirement to write down what you are grateful for at all. What’s important is the practice of noticing the small and large things in your life that are positive, and acknowledging that you are glad they are there. You can do this while you are still snuggled into your bed before you wake up. You can do this while waiting to pick up the carpool. What’s important is to let yourself have a moment to mentally show thanks. You can visualize gratitude anytime, anywhere.
Even better, if you visualize yourself being grateful in the act – like when someone opens a door for you – you’re more likely to more spontaneously feel gratitude in any moment where the same action happens again. Visualizing action is proven to be more effective than dreaming about success.
Create a gratitude board. Words can be hard sometimes, but pictures are easy. You can use a site such as Pinterest to collect pictures of all the different things for which you are grateful. If you are feeling blue, you can visit that board and look at all the blessings in your life. If you have young children, get a poster board and have them draw pictures, or cut them from magazines or printouts.
I’m a huge fan of Pinterest and use it for everything from visualizing elements of my stories such as settings, characters, and general esthetics. When I’m in a slump, having one of these boards to look back on is often all I need to recharge my excitement for a long project. When my mind snagged on the idea of using a board like this to collect pictures to represent all the different things I’m grateful for, all the little happy lights lit up in my mind of the possibilities.
Not only is creating a board like this something crazy easy to do, but it’s also something you aren’t going to lose, need to store, or end up throwing away. I can do it from my phone or in between projects while I work.