It’s kind of all over the place, isn’t it? I’m talking about the recommendation to practice gratitude. Of course, this is not new. Ancient wisdom texts and spiritual teachers throughout the ages have advocated gratitude as a vital part of spiritual maturity and ethical living. And in the last ten to twenty years, self-help gurus have called the practice integral to personal and emotional stability. Neuro-scientists now advocate the practice because it stimulates a particular part of the brain that releases serotonin and ocytocin, the happiness hormones. It’s amazing how often gratitude shows up on lists of the most important things you can do to make almost any arena of your life better: creativity, business, health and wellness, sleep, child-rearing, and of course, relationships. And here at LifeArt Studio, gratitude is one of the five foundational practices we recommend to our clients. (See my blog “Load-Bearing Beams.”) Research aside, I am confident that the practice of gratitude is a direct pipeline to feeling happier, accomplishing more, and gaining more focus and clarity in how to spend your precious time.
So how is your gratitude barometer these days?
• How often to you check in with your level of gratitude?
• How effectively do you identify and articulate appreciation and gratitude?
The Five-Minute Journal
If you want to get all formal about this practice, which you certainly don’t need to do, take a look at Uj Ramdas’s book The Five-Minute Journal. He gives a very brief overview of research on gratitude, and presents a protocol for gratitude practice. Here it is in a nutshell:
First thing in the morning:
1) What three things I am grateful for?
2) What can I do to make today great?
3) What daily affirmation or intention do I want to establish for myself today?
Last thing before going to bed:
1) What are three awesome things that happened during my day?
2) How could I have made this day better?
I recommend a dedicated journal or computer document for this practice. Make it a pleasant ritual because you’ll find that the state of appreciation and joy emerging from answering these questions will go with you through the day. Research indicates that focusing your attention on what you are doing well and happily attracts more accomplishment and satisfaction to you.
I use a 5x8 Moleskine journal with a jazzy purple cover, a gift from fellow-creative Julie Dunsworth. I keep it on the table where I do most of my early morning reading, and I go to this gratitude practice right after I prepare my Bulletproof coffee. Nothing comes before my Bulletproof coffee, but after that, nothing comes before my gratitude practice. No email, no business, no phone calls, no walking the dog, no getting the paper. Nothing. Sit, breathe, and write. Five minutes, and it’s done, and I start the day in a glorious state of serenity and receptivity for the good in life. I highly recommend it.
I hope this brief introduction to The Five Minute Journal by Uj Ramdas have been helpful. Modify the questions, of course, to suit your particular needs. But I think this is one foundational practice that will reap a variety of rewards in your creative living.
Let's Rock Your Foundations!
If you want to learn more about the importance of Foundational Practices in the creative life, please join us for the July 24 Creative Momentum Gathering. We’ll share tips and strategies to develop the core practices that genuinely support artful living.
Thank you for stopping by the LifeArt Studio today. Wishing you a day filled with gratitude!