Have you heard of the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon? Or perhaps you’ve heard it called ‘Frequency bias’? Have you ever looked around for your new car; chosen a make and model you’re interested in, and then all of a sudden you see it everywhere? It’s the car in front of you in the traffic jam, and then you walk past two more as you walk across the car park to the Tescos entrance. It seems like the universe knows you want that car, and decides to show it to you ALL the time…
It’s kind-of the same with gratitude journalling.
And please don’t roll your eyes; I know it’s something everyone talks about; they invite a guest to talk about it on Woman’s Hour; it’s on all the podcasts you listen to; the youtuber you watch writes one, and your Mum buys you one for Christmas. It’s like drinking more water – everyone tells you it’s good for you, but you’re not entirely sure why and you hear it so often, you don’t really bother.
But, I’ve tried it, and I have been writing a list of things I’ve grateful for at the end of most days for the last three or four years. And what they tell you is true; it really does make you happier! Because there aren’t really more Suzuki Jimny cars on the road than last week, but now you’re noticing them and paying attention. So when you write a list of all the things you’re grateful for one day, and the next day; what will happen is, your subconscious will start looking out for things to be grateful for. If you know you have to write down at least three things at the end of the day, you’ll start looking for them, and pretty soon you won’t be stopping at three. It leads to a full day of noticing positive things, and of course that’s going to make you feel good.
And I also don’t mean just physical, obvious things to be grateful for. Note down anything that makes you smile; anything positive that happened to you or other people. Anything good in the world is worth making note of. And try and make the things different each day. Don’t just write ‘my dog.’ every day and that’s it – that’s not going to work! But I suppose as long as you write two other different things as well, then you could write something specific about your dog most days – is it the way he greeted you at the door that day? Is it the way he tilted his head when you said a word he recognised? Or the way he rested his head on your knee?
Look for all the little things that made your day better. Did someone give way to you at a junction? Did someone hand your their trolly at the supermarket so you didn’t have to find one? Did one of your kids empty the dishwasher? In the last couple of weeks I’ve written on my gratitude list:
- how it made me to smile to see my cats on the radiator together and Rafiki was washing Lyra’s head for ages! Most of the time they don’t get on that well, so that was particularly cute.
- When I went outside to get the logs in for the Rayburn, I caught the sun as it was beginning to set. It had been cloudy and grey all day, so it was lovely to see the warm light suddenly spread across the fields.
- Until recently, I usually took Merlin out for his walk on my own. However Chris came with me for the first time and oh my goodness, Merlin was so excited about that!
- It’s the time of year when every now and then I look out the window and see a small murmuration of starlings. They pass by here on their way to join up with their friends on the Somerset Levels, and we’re treated to a little dance in the sky. It’s always magical to watch.
I decided to make myself a special book to write all these moments in. It’s a junk-journal style book with various papers, pockets and tags and cards to write on. These types of journals are always fun and interesting to use, and this way it will be extra enjoyable to look back on in the future.
If you would like to watch the full process for how I made the book, it will be in the ‘Velvet’ tier of my Patreon page this month if you would like to consider joining.