30 Days of Gratitude Challenge
Showing gratitude or being grateful has some very positive impacts on our mood, health and overall wellbeing. Research conducted by Robert Emmons shows that by completing a gratitude journal for even a brief time (between one and three weeks) people experienced significantly improvement in the following areas:
Physical health; higher immunity, lower blood pressure, better quality sleep
Psychological; more optimistic, improved mood, increased sense of joy and happiness
Social; more compassionate, less isolated/lonely and increased positive relationships
So how can gratitude do all of this?
Well its about the intention, so in part it is the actual writing down or recording of gratitude (i.e. in a journal). Essentially, when journaling what you are grateful for it helps train or focus our minds on the positive, rather than the negative. This in turn changes the way you look at, and interact with the world. It affirms the goodness in our lives and gets us to really acknowledge what we do have. And this is important because we often slip into unpleasant habits of focussing on what we don't have, forever pushing forward and onwards and not appreciating the present moment. It also helps us to figure out where this goodness comes from, and often it is from the people in our lives. Gratitude is a way of flexing our compassion muscles and gets us really thinking about who supports us, and in turn we acknowledge and affirm who we care about too.
So let’s start a 30 day challenge of gratitude that will move you toward wellbeing!
Ummm…Sign me up!
You don't need anything fancy to start a gratitude journal, just a working pen and a new journal. The journal doesn't need to be new, but it helps if you have an entirely separate place to really focus on your gratitudes and intentions. Also, if you are anything like me, any excuse will do when it comes to buying more stationary.
It might help to start this challenge at the beginning of the month to help you remember and commit to journaling every day. But really you can start at any time. Pick a certain time of day and get in the habit of journaling at the same time, this helps make cement the habit.
The purpose of writing or responding to the gratitude prompts is not to write pages and pages, you can of course, but it is about connecting with what you appreciate. So don't start the challenge by worrying whether your writing is good enough? or have you written enough? is the stuff you are grateful for big or grand enough? Those things don't matter, truly!
Gratitude is intensely personal, and actually the smaller or more specific you get about the things you are grateful for the better. We are often very aware of the big things in life we are grateful for, but bringing attention and acknowledgement to the little things improves appreciation for our daily lives. It could be as simple as being grateful for those comfy pants you own, that you found a chocolate bar that had slipped behind something healthy in the cupboard (true story!), or that it only took you 5 minutes to exit the house with your child this morning instead of the obligatory 20 (again….true story). Try not to judge yourself about how “good” your writing is, or how others might think about what you are grateful for. Just try to recognise that there are always things to be grateful for.
30 Gratitude Prompts
After every prompt you can expand your answer by writing down/recording why you gave a certain answer.
What is something you are looking forward to?
What memory are you grateful for?
What season do you appreciate?
What song or piece of music do you enjoy?
What is a mistake that led to something positive?
Name one person who has had a positive impact on your life?
Look around you and think about what you can see (people or objects) . List the things you are grateful for.
What season (weather) do you like the most?
What is something new you learned this week/month that you are grateful for?
What is your favourite smell?
Describe your favourite place in the world.
Which of your personality traits do you appreciate?
Describe a recent obstacle you have overcome.
Who in your life are you grateful for?
What about your health or body do you appreciate?
What is your favourite taste/food?
Which piece or type of technology are you most grateful for?
Write down the best piece of advise you have been given.
Describe the last kind thing you did (without being asked, or for any reward).
What is your favourite time of day?
What is something you are looking forward to this week/month?
What is your favourite outfit and how does it make you feel?
Write down what you have done recently to look after yourself (physical or mental health).
What is something you can do easily, but is difficult for others?
Describe a time when a stranger did something nice for you.
What is the best gift you have ever received?
What traditions did you enjoy as a child, or have put in place as an adult?
What did it feel like to fall in love for the first time?
Who inspires you to keep going when things are tough?
What is something you are really proud of?
(bonus - just in case the month is 31 days) - What is best compliment someone has ever given you?
Gratitude doesn't have to end after 30 (or 31) days. Use these prompts to think about other aspects of your life. Explore your sense of wellbeing and mood before and after completing the challenge. Share your answers (or some of your answers) with your loved ones and spread the appreciation. And let me know…what was this challenge like for you?