When it comes to gratitude practices and reflections, I find that it’s like taking a break: If I feel like I have no time for it, that’s when I need it the most. Especially this year! It’s certainly been pretty rough on all of us. There were times when I felt immense gratitude for how blessed I am as a person. Having a roof over my head, being in a single family unit and not feeling crowded in my own home. Then, other times I haven’t been very grateful (or graceful in those moments).
That’s the thing… We go through cycles when we can see how blessed we are and other times when we can’t see it. I prefer to take my gratitude practice on a walk, but I always kick start it with a little reflection and journaling. Here are a few prompts to get you started with your gratitude reflection and an easy way to set the stage for your journaling practice.
Part of why I love journaling is because it puts us in a different headspace. The act of using our hands to write on a real piece of paper — as opposed to typing or dictating — creates a deep internal connection. There’s a somatic response that leads to a mentally relaxing reflex. When we take the time to calm our body, our mind follows (and, funnily enough, the same is true in reverse. It’s all connected!)
Before I begin my gratitude journaling practice or mindful movement practice, it helps me to see those blessings when I first go into a state of reflection. I’ll set the mood with candles, tea, a soothing soundtrack, and beginning to slow my breath. Then, pulling up pictures of the blessings that have been in my life allows me to get into a state of gratitude and happiness.
If you’re feeling stuck, sometimes it helps to have your planner on hand so you can flip back over everything you’ve done this year. Yes, even this year! I know you wrote some things down in your planner.
Sometimes, I find that starting out with “I’m grateful for…” leads to a blank page and frustration. And we just spent so much time setting the mood for relaxation and reflection! So, even though we think leading questions are “bad,” they’re actually quite helpful in this situation.
Instead of feeling like there are so many possibilities (which leads to overwhelm) I like to begin by framing my questions in a particular area of my life. It’s my favorite trick because it leads me to think about what’s gone well or what am I grateful about my family or this specific thing rather than a universal “What are you grateful for?”
Especially now, I need prompts to help me think about gratitude in places where I wouldn’t normally think of gratitude.
Here are a few to get you started:
What’s the gift in…
Beginning with “What’s the gift in…” allows us to think about things in ways we normally wouldn’t so we can reflect on the gift within the situation.
What’s gone well…
Beginning with “What’s gone well…” helps us see…what’s gone well, especially in situations that may not be full of grace and well being.
When was I proud of my response with…
Beginning with “When was I proud of my response with…” gives us a big dose of congratulations. It’s really helpful to frame this by leading with what we’re in control of (or what our response has been) to remind us that we are in charge of our reactions!
How could I see the good in…
Beginning with “How could I see the good in…” is fairly self explanatory! It asks us to look for alternative points of view in an area that may not have been rich with blessings on the surface.
The benefits of journaling are astounding (I wrote about them here in my first blog post full of journal prompts for times of stress). I really appreciate how it turns my perspective around and lets me see, even though it may take a moment, that there really are things to be grateful for and gratitude that I need to give for this moment.
And, if you’re looking for even more journal prompts, here are 10 that will help your self-discovery to help you live in the present moment!
What are your favorite journal prompts for gratitude reflections?