“Upon waking let your first thought be . . . thank you.” Abraham-Hicks
It’s upon us, the beginning of a new year. You’ve spent all your Christmas money purchasing the next size up in jeans from all that fruit cake. Your credit card bill has you seriously considering pulling your children out of school and putting them into the workforce. If the sight of Santa makes you want to throw up all that rum cake you had for breakfast, then you are ready for a New Year’s Resolution, my friend.
Being somewhat of a rebel myself, I dislike resolutions. I don’t like rules and structures. But a Gratitude Resolution isn’t a restriction of any kind. You can hang onto those extra six pounds with pride while eating a turkey leg and binge-watching Netflix. The Gratitude Resolution doesn’t care. In fact, you can include that turkey leg and Netflix in your list of things to be grateful for! It’s a win-win.
My friend who just returned from a yoga retreat gave me this idea. You don’t have to follow my instructions to the letter (that’s for all you fellow rebels out there), but I think it will be more effective if you do. All you need is a notebook and a pen.
Put your journal beside your bed. As soon as you wake up in the morning, before you pour coffee, write down ten things you are thankful for. Once my brain is awake, it tends to start churning with all the things I need to do and problems I haven’t solved. Writing down the things I’m grateful for puts my worries on pause for a moment.
As the day goes on I find that I’m more aware of the many blessings in my life.
The next thing you’re going to write down in your journal is your intention for the day. It can be anything. Personal, spiritual, physical. Whatever you think you need to focus on or work on.
My intention for the past week has been to rest my mind more and stop trying to figure everything out. For some reason writing it down first thing in the morning and praying for guidance has helped me. My thoughts are still chaotic sometimes, but I’m more aware that I’m not following my intention. The intention is not a rule. I don’t feel ashamed that I’ve chased some thought down the rabbit hole for the thousandth time. I simply recognize my thoughts aren’t going where I want them to and put them back on the right track. If I mess up again, I simply re-route.
All of this takes five minutes tops.
The gratitude resolution might not change your life, but it might give you a better perspective for your day.
At the end of the day when you’re in bed, consider how well you did with your intention. If you think it needs improvement, then choose the same intention the next day.
The last thing my friend shared with me about this practice was remembering the times throughout your day when you felt at peace and whole. Meditate on that feeling for just a few moments. Feel those feelings again and stay in them. This was a really nice change for me. I tend to meditate on the worries and cares and things I want to change. I spend an embarrassing amount of time meditating on negative feelings and emotions and circumstances.
I’m especially prone to doing this in downtimes. Like when I’m driving somewhere or washing dishes or folding laundry. A very wise friend told me she meditated on Bible scriptures during those moments where she was prone to wander down dark thought paths. You could meditate on your intention for the day or a quote you especially like.
Make this fit your needs. After writing your blessings and intention, then you can write your to-do list. Maybe even five things you want to accomplish this next year. Keep those dreams written down in front of you so that you keep striving for them.
Thankfulness unlocks doors. Don’t believe me? Psychology today lists 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude from better health and better sleep. It can even combat depression. Crack open that notebook and let’s get started.
Originally published January 2018.