Some time during my PhD, while the tension started to rise, I got into the habit of counting my blessings before falling asleep. Initially, I just used this technique to divert my thoughts from the entire list of Everything I have To Do Tomorrow. I noticed that it lifted my mood, helped me relax and sleep more easily. And this “technique” was very simple – I would simple think of the best 3 things that happened to me during the past day.
And then the wonderful world of the internet brought my attention to Gratitude Lists. I started to see more blog posts about gratitude lists, and see the pretty lists on Instagram. As always, I just had to hop onto the bandwagon and try it out.
Guess what? It’s a win! As part of writing in my journal at night (a habit that unfortunately has suffered from my 2-continent wrestling), I add my personal gratitude list – my list of the 10 best things that happened to me during the day.
Some people simply write the best things that happened during their day – no fixed number of these, but I like having 10 numbers neatly beneath each other, and using a moment to reflect on my day. Usually, having 10 empty spots, helps me to think a little bit deeper. If I wouldn’t have a fixed number of slots, I might stop after the first 3 things that come to my mind. But having 10 places to fill makes me go over my day a few times more – it helps me see more gold in my day, and going over my day already a few times prevents me from going over my day (and the next day) many times while I try to fall asleep.
For the coming week, I’d like to give you some homework:
At the end of the day (when you leave your office, or before you go to bed), make a list of the 4 best things that happened to you during the day.
There are many different things that can make it to your list:
– some progress you made at work
– beautiful weather
– something enjoyable that you ate
– sports you practiced
– your favorite song on the radio
– meeting a friend
Even when you had a day that was All Bad, push on a little bit, and think of 4 things you feel grateful for. If your day was really awful, you might still be grateful for, say, your ability to breathe, or the fact that you are healthy and have a roof over your head, plumbing in your house etc. Just to humble you for a moment and know that many things are really #firstworldproblems.
If you’re ready to take your homework one notch up, try Personal Excellence’s #GratitudeChallenge!
Have you tried it? What are your experiences?