I have so many journals. A pink one with lined paper. A leather-bound journal with pretty textured paper. Then there are four journals I bought in 2018 that I added to my ever-growing collection: The Five Minute Journal, Start Where You Are Journal, 52 Lists For Happiness, and the My Prayer Journal.
I told you I had a lot of journals. What I was finding was that, I was only writing in my journals when I felt disjointed or upset by something that was happening in my life. Once those moments passed, my library of journals went back to collecting dust. I was listening to Oprah's, What I Know For Sure book on Audible, and she mentioned keeping a gratitude journal she wrote in every day for a decade —writing down five things she was grateful for each day. That got me to thinking, I should be writing in my journals from a place for gratitude, which is something I have been struggling with lately.
I have been getting a lot of rejection, dealing with trauma in my personal life, and to be honest, finding things to be grateful for in these moments has been tough. So, I challenged myself to write in each of my journals for two weeks.
There are disputes about how many days it takes to make a habit, but adding daily mindfulness to my routine is something I have tried and failed at over and over. Here was my chance to make 2019 different.
Week one was interesting. I placed all six journals by my bed, so they were one of the first things I rolled over and looked at when I put my feet on the carpet in my room each morning. Sunday was easy since I enjoy taking time for myself on that day. I sat on the floor with each journal writing about what I was grateful for, my daily bible verse and prayer, free wrote in the blank journals, and answered whatever the prompts in the guided journals I had brought up for me.
One of the prompts read, "List The 8 Things You Like To Do That Don't Involve Technology." That prompt stumped me as I sat with my pen in hand with the sun beaming on my face. I wrote, "Read a great magazine. Have a yummy meal. Do a facial. Dance." I continued to add to that list throughout the week. I even took time to do all of the things I mentioned above, including a dance class.
Dance is now a part of my weekly routine because it brings me so much joy (even though I'm not a dancer at all).
I enjoyed fleshing out my thoughts, learning verses from the Bible, and writing down my prayers. It amazed me how hard it was to write down my prayers and what I was thankful for, I felt a certain level of guilt for asking for anything. Another feeling that surprised me happened as the week went on and I skipped a couple of days. I felt different when I did.
The following Sunday, I set a goal — to write in my journals each morning for 20 minutes. Like the week before, Sunday started great, then I missed Tuesday, picked up Wednesday, and missed Friday. I could still feel the shift in me when I wasn't taking that time for myself. On days that I journaled, I walked out of my house into the world with a sense of sureness and gratitude. My mood was better. I felt lighter, and when something happened that shook me, like not getting a callback for an audition or being stressed by typical work things, I'd shrug them off. I knew that I had a lot to be grateful for and that what is meant to happen in my life will happen when it's right.
On a day when I didn't journal, everything affected me and I found myself hyper-focused on things that I didn't have or that lightness I felt disappeared. When I started this challenge, I hadn't imagined that I'd really be able to see a difference in how I perceived the world, but it did.
I know that we're all adulting and working hard to boss up and become the best versions of ourselves, but without mindfulness and gratitude, how can we make room for ourselves not just to dream our wildest dreams, but to find joy in the small things we're doing to get there?
Writing in six journals a day, honestly, is probably way too much. But, take the time you would choose to scroll mindlessly through Instagram or argue with a Facebook friend to write down a goal, what you're grateful for, or even a one-sentence affirmation each day. I am almost one hundred percent sure you won't regret it. I know I haven't and will be making that twenty minutes of mindfulness each day a priority.
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