It’s the third week into the new year. Perhaps you are utterly inspired, and on track with resolutions; perhaps to you it is just another day and week in a long line of days and weeks. Whatever your disposition toward the New Year, a good leveller we can never have too much of is gratitude.
The VIA Institute on Character, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing research in the science and practice of character, lists Gratitude as a strength of Transcendence: the ability to forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning.
To us, this is a thoughtful creative process as we constantly exercise our capacity to imagine, recreate, and see with new eyes.
Paolo Knill, one of the founders of the philosophy of the Expressive Arts, describes this well:
The creative act expands ones’ range of play in times of crisis and reminds the individual/group of his/her/their inherent capacity to shape the world.
As a strength, gratitude as a connection to life is uniquely powerful because it has the capacity to give perspective in difficult situations, and sustain the truly good and joyful moments we encounter in our lives. Bringing it back to the New Year: gratitude can keep us in balance between that overwhelming burst of inspiration, and the idleness of non-expectation caused by fear, resistance, and past experiences. It can open hidden doors for fresh perspective, and keep us grounded in the truth of yourself. Whether we’re struggling or soaring, you can be assured that with gratitude, you’ll keep yourself headed in the right direction.
Whether you have that list to help you live a better year, or you are taking it one day at a time to make better choices, to start with gratitude is a sure step forward. Below are some suggestions for starting your own Gratitude Journal.
Meaning in reason
Go through this pair of questions each day, repeating the cycle for as long as you would like:
- What are you grateful for today?
- Why are you grateful for it?
Notice the details
List down one person, one object, and one moment in your day that you are grateful for.
Appreciating the hard things
When faced with a bad day, reflect on it by listing/writing down what lessons you learned from it. Our trials are one of our greatest teachers.
- What did you learn about yourself?
- What did you learn / are you learning to do because of the bad experience?
- Can you find a way to appreciate the experience? (This does not need to happen right now. If you can’t, imagine how it might in the future. This helps just as much, and is the first step in the right direction.)
We’d love to hear from you: what do you think? How do you keep gratitude growing in your life?