Tag Archives: gratitude journal

Self-care: How to start a gratitude and success journal

I am starting with a notebook I had in my desk.

I heard about gratitude journals years ago and brushed them off as a waste of time (I have a very “left-brain” background).

After starting my work with Indrani’s Light Foundation I would hear Indrani talking about her gratitude journal, but still filed it away as “something I didn’t have time for”.

Last year in October, I finally decided to give the gratitude journal idea a try but didn’t really have any idea how to get started. I knew that writing a traditional journal entry in complete sentences didn’t feel like something I would actually do, so I worked through a few ideas, and finally landed on something that worked.

Now, when I say “worked,” I mean that I successfully journaled for 17 out of 61 days in October and November before stopping completely in December.

You must get started somewhere right?

In episode 15 of the Caring for the Cargivers Podcast Indrani, Amy, and I discussed some of our self-care practices. One of the self-care practices I want to improve upon in 2018 is keeping a gratitude and success journal. When I started keeping my own journal in late 2017 I had no idea what I was doing, but over time I managed to find a system that works for me.

To kick off 2018 I thought I would share how I am using my gratitude and success journal in the hopes it might help you give the idea a try.

How to start a gratitude and success journal (the Jeremie way)

My template includes: gratitude, habits, and successful day.

  1. Buy a journal – I found an empty journal we had sitting around the house (see the image at the start of the post).
  2. Decide what you want to track daily in your journal – I track gratitude, habits, and successful days.
  3. Create a template for your journal entries on the first page – or if you are less worried about structure skip this step. Remember this is YOUR journal.
  4. Pick how often you want to write in your journal – I am committed to writing in mine every week day, if I make entries on the weekend that is a bonus. I also try to write in mine first thing in the morning before starting my work day.
  5. Start using your journal – I am re-kickstarting my journal Friday January 26th.
  6. Don’t beat yourself up when you get off track. Just start again.

How I use my journal

An example of my entry for January 26th.

Section One: Gratitude

I start each day’s entry by reflecting on the previous day and writing down three things that I am grateful for from that day.

I reflect on my previous day for a couple of reasons:

  • I find I am usually too tired before bed to properly reflect on my day and write down my thoughts. If I try to journal at night, I just don’t do it.
  • By writing these three things down first thing in the morning I get an instant boost of energy to my day.

Section Two: Habit Formation

This middle section of my journal entry is dedicated to forming new positive habits. Currently I am trying to go for a walk, drink 4-8 glasses of water, and take my vitamins and other meds every day.

To form these activities into habits I know I have to repeat them enough times that they become routine: actions I take without even having to think about them. By recording my success with each habit in my journal I am reminded to complete each daily task and eventually (hopefully) form a new habit.

Section Three: Successful Day

Every day I select 3-5 tasks from my much longer task list that, if I finish them, will make me feel like I accomplished something and made my day successful.

This section is super important to my day. In the past I have always worked through my day using a long list of tasks I need to complete. What I discovered was, even when I finished a lot of the tasks on that list, I wasn’t feeling very accomplished. There were so many more tasks on the list.

For the end of 2017, and for 2018 I have stopped working of my long task list. Instead, I record 3-5 tasks that I need to complete each day that will make me feel like the day was successful.

If I manage to get more tasks done…great! But achieving more than the five tasks listed in my journal is not a requirement. Only the three to five in the journal need to be finished for my day to be successful.

At the end of 2017 this tweak to my daily routine made a big difference. I found that, at the end of the day, while wrapping things up and transitioning to family time I was feeling much more accomplished and had higher levels of energy.

By limiting my expectations of myself (which usually were not very realistic or fair) I have set myself up to succeed and put myself in a better headspace for the rest of the day and evening.

Journaling every day

Right now, I have a one-day-in-a-row streak going for my 2018 gratitude and success journal.

I am hoping that I can make writing in this journal a successful part of my self-care routine. However, I am also not going to beat myself up for not getting this self-care practice “right”. I think that is an important piece of any self-care routine: if the self-care routine makes you feel worse because you aren’t doing it, then find something different to try.

A self-care routine that makes you feel guilty isn’t doing its job.

I am looking forward to getting better at journaling, and I would love your help. Let me know in the comments below what your gratitude journal (or any sort of daily journal practice) looks like.

Thankful for a great 2014….

nwlrbb50b76a9dc4871As we prepare to join loved ones this holiday season, let us take just a few moments to sit in silence and speak softly the things that pop into our heads that we are thankful for.

For me, it always starts with the simplest things:

  • My health
  • My family
  • The deep love of my children and husband
  • The warmth of my home.

Some of the more significant events are:

  • Visits to India and Trinidad to start global programs.
  • The first Train-the-Trainer in Austin.
  • Train-the-Trainer in Trinidad and how well we all formed community.
  • The ILF Team.
  • The love, support and brilliance of Andrea J Lee.
  • The new knowledge that Kate Roberts has spied about the way I teach and the way it can impact behavior change.
  • My ongoing partnership with PSI and being on the WIN team with Melinda Gates and The Princess of Norway and a group of female philanthropists who are ready to change our world.

What does your list look like?

Please let us know in the comment section below.

May you be at Peace.

Love and light,


When losing our path really means finding our way….

Light steps“If we can see our way through the uncertainty of feeling lost, unexpected callings often present themselves. One stirring example is the story of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, (1954-2006), who began her carrier as an accomplished Viola player. While on tour in Europe, her viola was stolen. Though she could have replaced it, the theft threw her into a state of feeling lost and uncertain. She stopped playing for a while and then began to work with the only instrument she had left, her voice. Though she had sung before, she devoted herself to the instrument within her, and in two years, became the luminous mezzo-soprano she was meant to be. “

This was taken from the book Seven Thousand ways to Listen by Mark Nepo.

Can you imagine what her parents told her when she refused to replace the viola?
Do you imagine they said, “Oh well honey, just SING!”
I think they probably said the opposite.

If you have ever had a child who has given up a sport or an activity that you thought they were good at and said something to them, it was most likely something negative.

I believe that it’s a Neil Diamond song that has lyrics that say,  “and being lost feels like coming home.”
Yes, BUT only if we surrender to the LOSTness of feeling loss and feeling lost.
When this happens, we cannot command the stars or the planets to make things the way they were.
A parent who loses a child cannot imagine a world without them. Yet, they often have other children who love and need them and have to find a new path to future joy.

Only time can show the way to weave life and light into the numbing darkness.

It is the acceptance of the dark time, however, and the ability to stay present with our emotions and not push them away that makes room for light when the time is right.

We cannot “will” the time to be right.

Over the course of our life, we all experience loss. This is a fact of life…loss happens and will continue to happen.

We can probably count the things we have lost and can still feel the pangs of pain.
We are less adept at counting out the things we have found.
We are woefully inadequate at sustaining the buoyant feelings of joy at the levels we can sustain the pangs of pain.

Brene Brown tells us that rehearsing for tragedy does not make us any more able to handle it when it arrives… and arrive it will.

It is the nature of all things.

The only thing that can help us with deep loss are the overwhelming joy stores we build up while we can.
This simply means that we must try to squeeze the joy out of all situations, whenever we can.
We cannot allow joy to be lost to the ether because we are too scared to feel it.

Feeling joy is not something we are taught to do. We are also hard wired to look for the “lions and tigers and bears” so we can run away and live another day.
We often react as if we live in the same fearful jungle that our forefathers lived in.
Our jungles are now often just in our heads and we create many of the lions and tigers and bears.

As we dive into this New Year, I encourage you to make a list of THINGS YOU FOUND that made you joyful.

If you keep a gratitude journal, go back through the entries and make your list. Perhaps you want to share some of the memories with your family and friends. Why not have a Joy-fest! Kind of like the opposite of a pity party.

Take time out to celebrate the things well won and well earned.

Happy memory trails to you, until we meet again.
Love and light,

Daily kick start for your brain…

Daily kick start for your brain…

I usually write in my gratitude journal right before bed but last night I came home late and was extremely tired. I decided to go to bed and I promised myself that I would write the entries when I woke up the next day. So here I am at the kitchen counter, the house is silent and my coffee is warm and welcoming.

I do a quick scan to remember the main things that I was grateful for from the day before and I easily access a few nice memories.
I wrote them down; happy to keep the promise I made to myself for completing my list.
Then, I pause and I scan my brain again and KAPOW!
All of the other things that I was grateful for all downloaded at once and my brain said “HELLO!”

It was a fascinating experience.
I wrote down all the items that I wanted to capture and then realized that something had shifted internally.
I woke up joyful… so that was not what had shifted.
I woke up grateful…so that was not what had shifted.
I woke up ready to exercise…so that was not what had shifted.

I sat back for a few breaths and finally realized what it was that had shifted.

I seemed to have been filled with hopeful expectation for this new day and wondered in a flash what great things were about to unfold.

Hopeful expectation for this new day!
Can any start to any new day be ANY sweeter?
I think not.
There were so many days in my past when I woke up with trepidation, angst and fear for what the new day would bring. I scoured my world for all the BAD things that would go wrong… and I would find each and every one of them. I found horrible things around every corner, just sitting for me…waiting to be discovered.
I painted my life with all the pain and the heartache I could find.
I coated myself with every single bad memory and bad experience I ever had.
I was miserable.
I could NOT enjoy the positives right before me.
I did not have the training to see the positives in my life.
It was this daily dose of dissatisfaction that finally brought me to me knees and the pain finally got large enough for me to seek help.

Help came in the form of:
1. Intense exercise that lead me to training for my triathlon.
2. Consistent meetings with an amazing therapist.
3. A decision to put the love I felt for my children at the beginning and end of every day and as bookends to everything I did for them during the day.
4. A decision to speak differently to my children. I spoke more softly and kindly. I treated them as the precious gifts they were.
5. I began to fully comprehend the short amount of time I had here on earth with the folks that I loved.

Yes, I did all these things simultaneously. I began to develop the skill of pushing the negatives out of my zoom lens of life and began to zoom in on the good that was all around me.

Now, I have the ability to scan my brain for great memories and they are immediately delivered into my conscious mind.

This is a life affirming skill.
I invite you to try it.
It is not easy but mastery will save your life.

Where should you start?
Go for a daily walk…even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Leave your cell phone at home and just walk. Notice the glory of nature along the way…even if you are in a city.
Even in a city you can hear and see birds and notice weeds popping up between the slabs of concrete.
Look for the messages that say, “You are here…and here is a good place to be.”

Please give this a try. You will be happy you did.

Love and light,

Gratitude, Presence and Self-care…a GPS for life’s twists and turns.

How many of us now depend on devices that help us to navigate our way to a new destination? The answer is lots of us.

How many of us refuse to tune into our inner GPS to find the way to Peace and Joy? The answer is LOTS of us.

While it is easy to just put an address into your device and get directions, you still must do a few things:

-You must keep the device charged so you can use it.
-You have to learn how to input the address and where to find the app that gives the directions.
-You have to have the presence of mind to closely follow the directions and make the turns that it suggests or you will not get to where you want to go.

This is also true of our internal GPS. Yes, we all have one.
The inner GPS is called intuition. Your intuition will give you hints of Yes and No when you are turning in a direction that is not aligned with the work you were sent here to do. Your work may or may not coincide with the job you have. If it does, you will feel joyful and fulfilled even if there are many struggles in your life. If, however, your job makes you depleted and sad, then your work that you are meant to do is far from what you do daily.

There is a quick fix for this. Yes, a quick fix.

Your intuition wants to steer you into the work you are meant to do and it can if you begin to feel grateful for all the things that you have, even the challenges. Being able to stay present in the midst of challenge and being grateful for the lesson in the challenge is the quickest way to JOY. I promise you, this really does work.

Every night before bed, I write at least 5 things that I am grateful for and I go to bed with gratitude in my head and heart. The “S” in the GPS is for self-care. That means that you put yourself at the TOP of each list you have, and you must be sure you do something for yourself each day. It can be as simple as allowing the answering machine to get the phone calls for a short time while you do a special something. It can be reading a good book, taking a bath, sitting in silence, listening to your favorite music, chatting with a treasured friend, etc. These snippets of self care do not have to look like taking a whole weekend off to go to the spa, although that’s good too!

Waiting for the “right” moment for self-care is a great way to put off self-care. It is a good way to fool yourself into thinking that you have made yourself a priority.

If you are a subscriber to my newsletter, you have received my 5 minutes to Happiness tool that allows you to quickly tap into your positive traits. If you are brave enough to align your behaviors with your positive traits you will have found a quick way to follow your inner GPS.

You can get 5 minutes to Happiness here.

Give this a try for 7 days. I would love to hear how it works for you!

Love and light