Last week I encouraged you to start a gratitude practice as part of your self-improvement goals for the new year. This included the idea of creating a gratitude jar where you have a place to collect the blessings you can name. However, 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.
This week I’m talking to those who struggle to write their thoughts down. 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, and acknowledging that you are glad they are there.
Maybe you can make a goal to think about something you’re grateful for each morning right after you turn off the alarm clock while you are still snuggled into your bed. Or you can take a few minutes before you drift off to sleep at the end of the day. You can practice gratitude whenever you’re stuck in line somewhere, or put on hold. What’s important is to let yourself have a moment to mentally show thanks.
Instead of a gratitude jar, consider a gratitude board to visualize with
While words can be hard sometimes, pictures are easy. You can use a site such as Pinterest to collect pictures of all the different things for which you are grateful. Whenever you need a pick me up, you can visit that board and look at all the blessings in your life.
The practice of finding a picture for your gratitude board can be something you make time for every day and can be done in those inbetween times, like when you’re waiting for a kiddo to put on their shoes or use the bathroom.
Gratitude boards are great for young children who don’t like writing yet. They can draw pictures or find things they’re grateful for in magazines or printouts.
As with anything, don’t overcomplicate this. If you find yourself not liking putting your feelings into words, find pictures instead, or draw them yourself. The purpose of doing so is to reinforce your gratitude and teach your brain to seek out more things you’re grateful for in the future.
My love letter to Pinterest
I’m a huge fan of Pinterest and use it for everything including 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 I considered 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 that’s crazy easy to do, but it’s also something I wouldn’t have to figure out how to keep track of, store, or end up throwing away. I can do it from my phone or in between projects while I work.
Discussion Question: Do you use a visualization board? If so, tell us all about it!