My Life-Changing Gratitude Journal
In 2015, I started experiencing anxiety and panic attacks. I was filled with uncertainty about what my future had in store. I couldn't sleep, and the chronic fatigue impacted my daily life. Even making it to the grocery store felt like a feat.
Every area of my life was in massive transition. I was mending a broken heart after an unexpected breakup, searching for my next career move, and grappling with money problems — I remember feeling like I couldn't catch a break or my breath because everything was going wrong.
I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I was certified and ready to train, but there weren't many opportunities, and I doubted I could turn my passion into a career.
I applied to a competitive writing and communications program, with little direction and a shortlist of interests and strengths. But even if I did get accepted, I didn't know how I would afford the tuition. I felt like I was alone in the middle of the ocean on a sailboat without a sail — no clue what direction I was going, no control, and no one to save me if I were to tip.
I was searching for hope, for something to help with anxiety. I started reading "The Power," by Rhonda Byrne, a book my now-ex-boyfriend gave me. One specific quote struck me in a life-changing way, "Feel grateful with all your heart. Gratitude is the greatest multiplier. Gratitude is a powerful way to shift your energy and bring more of what you want into your life."
How to Reduce Anxiety with a Gratitude Experiment
Could simply thinking grateful thoughts bring me what I want? Could it change my life and help me get into school, find a job, and get me out of this hopeless rut? I was willing to try anything, so I purchased a small turquoise notebook that read "Be Happy" on the cover and started journaling about gratitude.
I wrote about anything and everything that I was grateful for: people, places, and experiences that brought me joy. Some days I wrote a novel, and others, I wrote only a few lines. One time I even wrote about being grateful for a grilled cheese sandwich, and, believe it or not, that was enough. It wasn't what I wrote that mattered, but how often I put pen to paper. The goal wasn't to write until my hand hurt; it was to build the daily habit of practicing gratitude while thinking about relieving anxiety.
After only one month of journaling, just as Byrne suggested, many areas of my life improved. I started my own fitness business, which turned out to be a huge success. I made new like-minded friends, and paid opportunities with local gyms and yoga studios grew. I was accepted into the competitive writing program that I had applied to. In just four short weeks, my perspective changed, and so did my life. And I credit it all to practicing gratitude in my search for how to help overcome anxiety and panic attacks.
I believe in the power of gratitude. I think practicing gratitude can change our circumstances and multiply our lives. I now have more than four small turquoise notebooks, along with several empty copies waiting to be filled. Gratitude has become a life-changing practice for me, and I know it can be one for you, too.
Gratitude Practice Prompts
Want to start a gratitude practice, but you're not sure how to begin? Try using these prompts:
• Who is one person you're grateful for, and why?
• What is your favorite place in the world and why?
• Describe a memorable experience that brought you joy.
• What's your favorite nourishing food and why?
• Who's one person who taught you a valuable life lesson?
• Who can you lean on during tough times, and how does that support make you feel?
• Write a list of silly things that make you smile.
• Recall a memory that makes you laugh.
• What's one good thing that happened to you today?
Remember, like anything else in life, if you want to see and feel a difference, consistency is key. Use gratitude as one of many grounding techniques for anxiety. Don't just think about your practice; write about it! As you grow your practice, your life will change. Practicing gratitude causes your energy to shift, which, in the end, helps you attract more of what you want.
Gratitude is a powerful tool to help notice the abundance that already exists. Try this free Roundglass class, Boost Your Mood with Gratitude by meditation teacher Almeiri Santos, to feel the effects of incorporating gratitude into your daily life.
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