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How to gain from gratitude

Journaling can be a profound and reflective experience. There are many ways to journal, including ‘gratitude’ journals where you list 3 (or more) things each day you are grateful for.

One issue that I have with these types of journals is the focus on externalities (things that happen to you) rather than internal achievements. Often, for this reason, I suggest a ‘credit journal’ where clients can list at least 3 things they take ‘credit’ for doing each day. A choice, a behaviour or a response, for example.

Regardless of the type of journal you keep, there is a brilliant exercise that you can do based upon gratitude. If you keep a gratitude journal, it fits seamlessly into this process – if you don’t, just make it your entry for today or just do it on a piece of paper.

Here is the exercise – complete each step before moving on:

  • Make a list of people that you are grateful for in your life (current or from the past).
  • For each person, make a list of the virtues that you were grateful for (probably a list of adjectives about that person.)
  • Now look at the list and switch gears. Say out loud for each ‘virtue’ : “I give myself credit for being [insert virtue]”.
  • If if doesn’t feel true for you, highlight that virtue. After you have read through them all, make a list of the highlighted ones.

Now here is how to gain from your gratitude: each virtue is something you value but are feeling you are not doing enough in your life. What if you chose 1 or 2 and decided “tomorrow I will do more of that”?

For example, Scott did this exercise and his highlighted list included “kindness, empathy, great listener”. We worked through how these could be added to his day. Fast forward a week and Scott felt that simply focusing on living his valued virtues had transformed the way he was living – he reported the joy it gave him to do so. He had, off his own bat, proceeded to choose 1 new virtue to focus on each day – and found he was living more of what he called ‘his best life’.

For a corporate coaching client Sammy, the same exercise (with a twist) was used to great effect. Sammy was asked to define virtues in people she admired in the workplace, who got stuff done that she didn’t, then follow the same process of identifying their virtues. The process of identifying and owning the adjectives described opened up a powerful conversation around self awareness and self management to be more effective in the workplace ‘ecosystem’. She then had an action plan to be ‘a better version of herself’ (her words) and succeeded in overcoming some of the challenges she felt she otherwise faced in being a good performer at work.

Perhaps you want to give it a go and see how it works for you? Let me know how you go (add a reply here) and if you need a hand or have any questions about the process or what emerges, please just contact me directly.