Here we are, folks. The Holidays, with all their joys and challenges. It’s pretty easy to get lost in the fray, for our grounding practices to become less consistent. As we kick off the season, I wanted to check in and help set the tone for the coming days.
My equivalent of a holiday journaling workshop is what I call “The Season of Gratitude,” as a way of staying focused on what’s real, what matters. Note: You will not get a Black Friday sale email from me. Nor on Cyber-Monday or any of the other breathless, consumption-driving markers. But if you would like to explore what an uplifting holiday / end of year / New Year vision-setting workshop looks like, please reach out. It would be my pleasure to co-create a supportive experience for your professional / personal community or brand.
A gratitude practice is something you hear a lot about in the context of journaling. And rightly so. Gratitude is a life-hack, a super-power of sorts. It can help you retrain your brain to become a more positive person.
How? Let’s take something as trivial and old-school as the game of Tetris. In what’s called “the Tetris effect,” the video game has been known to have a scientifically measurable impact on people’s brains and even invade their dreams. Similarly, the effect of practicing and retaining a more positive thinking pattern has a powerful upside. Over the past two decades studies have consistently found that people who practice gratitude report fewer symptoms of illness, more optimism and happiness, stronger relationships, and more generous behavior among other benefits.
And hell yeah, that’s great. But when I contemplate a typical gratitude practice it actually seems fairly self-centered. Yes, you’re being grateful on the page and that benefits you, but it ends there. Ok, what next? Who else?
“Thanksgiving” is a compound word. It contains “thanks” (we got that part) and, oh hey, giving. It’s good to be thankful. Just like it’s great to write down things you appreciate in your journal. But then go further - now, give it away. Help your gratitude grow some feet and go out into the world. Need help? I created the cheeky AllSwell postcard packs with Terrapin Stationers as an analog extension of your journal, as a way to connect.
Via whatever means, try writing a simple note of thanks to someone that has positively impacted you and your life. Not for something transactional, like a present. This isn’t a thank you card to Aunt Irene for the birthday check for fifty bucks. A simple kindness, a moment that mattered, a way of being that shed light in the dark. These are the subtle but important things that might otherwise go unsaid, un-honored.
This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive letter. No need to get bogged down, a few sentences will do. Add a stamp, off it goes. And just wait to see what comes back your way. It tends to be pretty wonderful. As the wise Anne Lamott writes in Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers:
“Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.”
Thank you for being part of the magic that is AllSwell, for helping to spread the good word about putting pen-to-paper, and furthering the journaling revolution. You are my ambassadors, my friends, my co-conspirators. I’m thankful for each and every one of you.
Image Credit: Red Hot Chili Peppers