There I was, sitting at my kitchen table, and suffering from severe writer’s block. I had no idea what to say. The clean, white pages of my first moleskin notebook were too clean to spoil with any old random thought.
You might feel the same way when you first open this book, stumped about what to write. But trust me, not only will the feelings of gratitude for who and what you have in life soon flow freely, but this (seemingly) small daily ritual will have a big, positive impact on your life.
It did for me.
After I first heard my friend Vishen Lakiani, the entrepreneur behind MindValley.com, discuss the idea of a gratitude log years ago I immediately began attempting my own version.
Eventually I stumbled across a formula that you’ll be given in this essay. I owe deep gratitude and thanks to both Vishen and one of my mentors, Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach fame, for helping me put this system together.
The Early To Rise System of gratitude comprises two main components.
In the first component, you will start by listing your gratitude for “one big thing” in your life. Second you list an opportunity you are grateful for. Third, you’ll list something you did that day – or yesterday – you are grateful for. Next you’ll list something you are going to do that day that you are grateful to have the chance to do. And finally, you finish with appreciation for all of the people in your life you want to list.
For example, one of my recent entries went like this:
Gratitude – For the ability to write out on the farm on a beautiful sunny day.
Opportunity – For the chance to interview one of my most successful coaching clients.
Did – Completed this month’s Financial Independence newsletter.
Do – Film 10 youtube videos for Turbulence Training.
Appreciate – My mom, Bally the Dog, my business partners Matt Smith and Bedros Keuilian, my old friend Joel Marion, my favorite coaching client Isabel De Los Rios, my best friend Jeremy, and the nice customer who posted an amazing success story on my Facebook page.
(It’s always the gratitude for complete strangers or “first timers on your list” that will bring a smile to your face. After all, it’s like you’re talking about them behind their back – but in a GREAT way!)
The second component of your Gratitude Journal involves listing 5 things you accomplished that day. This idea comes from Dan Sullivan (and he recommends teaching it to your children, so they learn the power of positive momentum early in their life).
At first it might seem difficult to come up with five accomplishments. After all, it was just another ordinary day at work, right? But then you’ll remember how you had a great call with your manager or a colleague. You might have stuck to your diet plans at lunch, even though your department went to Appleby’s and everyone else shared the high-calorie appetizer. Or it might simply have been you had a 5-minute conversation with your spouse or child.
All of these are accomplishments. For some reason we’ve become immune to being grateful for the small miracles and wonders in day-to-day life. Well, no longer. It’s time to boost your mood through gratitude journaling. Write them down, and be grateful for them. Eventually you’ll get to the point where you have a hard time limiting yourself to just five items. And that will be when you start to maximize the positive momentum of this little daily ritual.
So back to my virgin Gratitude Journal. What did I write on my first day of this journey?
I thought and thought, flicking the top of my ball point pen, fiddling with the journal, and staring into space. Suddenly, it came to me, and I wrote down what was, and continues to be, the number one thing I am grateful for every day. I don’t write it down every day or even every week, but rarely a month goes by when I don’t list, “This fortunate life” as my number one item to be grateful for in my life.
I truly am blessed. And so are you. Never forget it. Use this ritual to remind yourself of all the great things in your life. It will reduce your blood pressure, brighten your mood, make you more patient and positive with other people, and will bring a smile to your face no matter how cloudy the day.
I think you’ll agree that we are both living lives of luck and prosperity if we’re even able to have this conversation at all.
If you’re not in agreement yet, a few sessions of Gratitude Journaling are sure to change your mind.
Enjoy the journey to becoming a better person through this simple act that requires only pen, paper, and an open heart.