Last year, Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the U.S. as a Category 3 storm and caused massive destruction. As a resident of the greater West Palm Beach, Florida area, my family and I were just one of the many families that evacuated our homes to ensure our safety. After the storm passed, we returned home to find that luckily nothing was seriously damaged, and of course, our family was safe.
However, there are many who suffered greatly due to the effects of this storm. Probably one of the hardest hit areas was Haiti, where the death toll is now approaching 900 lives lost. Haiti will continue to need our manpower, resources, and prayers for quite some time to rebound from this damaging natural disaster.
While I spent much of that week concerned about what the storm would bring, I am now reflecting on how grateful I am to have had the means to evacuate and protect my family. In fact, there are many things for which I am grateful, but too often we seem to forget them or lose focus on the important things in life. Instead, we concentrate on the short-term. We become consumed by this task or that worry, and we lose sight of all that we have and all for which we should be so thankful.
One of the things I am committing to focusing on in the future is taking more time for gratitude. All too often, we are shaken into a place of gratitude when circumstances suddenly become daunting or we become worried by a worst-case scenario that turns out to be not quite as bad as we had originally anticipated. Then, we start to feel grateful for everything and everyone we have in our lives. However, this should be something that we reflect on constantly.
One of the best ways to do to this is by writing in a gratitude journal. Simply keep a notebook or journal that is specifically for your gratitude entries; do not use a general purpose notebook. Every night before you go to bed, write an entry in your gratitude journal that includes three things for which you are grateful for or three good things that happened to you throughout the course of your day. You don’t have to write a novel, but be descriptive. Don’t simply note what you are grateful for, but why you are grateful. Ask yourself these questions to dive deeper into what these elements bring to your life. Is it joy, humor, peace, light, love? Reflect on it and write in your journal.
Like with any habit, the key to making gratitude a natural part of your everyday life is through consistency. Commit to creating your journal entries each night. Over time, you will see quite a range of all the wonderful things, people, and events in your life. When you’re having a bad day, you can go back to your journal and remind yourself of everything for which you have to be thankful.
When we take more time for gratitude, we achieve a strong focus on what is truly important in our lives. It also makes us more empathetic to those in need.
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