Transitions are universal and inevitable, regardless of age we’re constantly evolving. And while change can, at times, feel messy and uncomfortable, it’s through these metamorphoses that we learn success. All of my greatest lessons have come as a result of a pivot after a failure. These pivotal movements have made fertile ground for growth. Through the exploration of these transitions and changes it is my hope that fullest readers will feel less alone in knowing that others are going through the same trials and celebrations. As I move through my Saturn return and the tail end of my 20’s I find myself mining for life’s gems and sharing the lessons I’ve learned (and still continue to learn) through personal essays, lists, and interviews.
Enjoy my monthly column, Pivot for the fullest.
I once had a podcast guest tell me she keeps a gratitude journal in the form of a note in her phone but she named the file “GJ” because it felt too cliche to have something titled “Gratitude Journal.” Even though she was bashful about it, it was what she credited to getting her out of a deep phase of depression during a transitional (and pivotal) year.
And I totally get it — gratitude is important, but it can feel like an overly simplistic route to happiness.
Gratitude is one of those wellness practices that costs nothing, has been around forever, and is scientifically proven to improve our lives both mentally and physically.
According to a 2015 UC Davis study, grateful people have less aches and pains, fewer toxic emotions, they sleep better, and they have less stress. Sign us up!
Every day is different for me with my own gratitude practice. Some days I struggle to come up with new things to be grateful for. Other days I write down one item and am surprised by how much gratitude pours out. When I start to appreciate an area where my life is already abundant, eventually I see other areas becoming more abundant, too.
Here are a few specific journaling exercises I use in terms of gratitude journaling…
Gratitude Practice #1 — Thanksgiving Dinner for Your Mind
Step 1: Keep a journal dedicated especially to this topic. I keep mine by my bed so I don’t forget, and try to write in it first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Each day, simply date the page and write down five to ten things you’re grateful for that day. It take less than two minutes.
Step 2: Every Thanksgiving, take time to review your year of gratitude. Look at the dates and notice who and what you were grateful for each day, as well as how your year changed and evolved based on what was going on in your life.
Step 3: Begin a fresh journal each year to continue collecting gratitude.
Gratitude Practice #2 — Deep Feeling Gratitude
Step 1: Every so often I like to take one item from my long laundry list of gratitudes and really get down to the specifics of what it means to me. Write in vivid detail about this one thing and how it makes you feel. By getting deeply involved in the emotion behind the thing you’re grateful for, you allow even deeper gratitude to pour over you. (I learned this technique from Marie Forleo in one of her weekly videos. She gave the vivid example of all the ways she’s grateful for her fiancé, from how he makes the best pancakes to how he supports her in every way. Her talk was so filled with emotion it brought her to tears in the video and it really depicted the level of emotion that deep gratitude can evoke in you.)
Gratitude Practice #3 — Gratitude Group
Step 1: Choose a few friends wanting to amp up the gratefulness in their lives, and start a dedicated group text.
Step 2: Each day, send your group a text with three things you’re grateful for from that day. It’s crucial that they’re different every day and that your group provides accountability for that. Try to limit your crew to no more than three, so you’re not bombarded by texts all day long and can actually read what your mates are sending and be happy for them, reminding yourself to notice the moments of gratitude in your own day, and get inspired by what they’re grateful for. It’s a great way to see the positive elements of your friend’s lives as they unfold in real time and to celebrate with them as they come.
Gratitude Practice #4 — Give Gratitude to Get Gratitude
Step 1: Every day, jot down three (or more) ways you contributed to the world and are proud of yourself for that day. It could be as simple as helping a coworker, calling your grandpa, or cooking a yummy meal for a loved one.
Step 2: Think of a few ways other people helped you that day. Perhaps someone held the door open for you, a friend sent you a text of encouragement, or your boyfriend took out your trash. Notice the exchange of value that occurs. I believe the more we give, the more we receive.
Katie Dalebout is a writer, host, and the founder of Let [a podcast] Out, a workshop that helps people DIY podcast. Since 2013, she has interviewed nearly 300 people on her long-form interview show, Let It Out and co-hosts Spiraling, an optimistic anxiety podcast. Her first book, Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling is a collection of essays and journaling prompts, and was published in 2016. She writes a monthly column for the fullest called Pivot and runs the website LET IT OUT, a Space for Soft Stories. Catch her in her Let It Out Letter, which features her essays, recommendations, and favorites. When she’s not traveling she lives surrounded by plants in Manhattan.
Photo by: Christopher Saunders