I used to be real into setting New Year resolutions until I realized I can never keep them well. My to-do-list of goals is already booked solid to be adding yet more markers where I can measure my success rate and kick myself for when I don’t meet the line. I need less pressure, not more.
And so, I replaced this resolution-setting activity with something else: gratitude writing.
For many years now I have given myself an activity of writing 100 gratitudes from within the past year on New Years Eve. This practice has completely flipped the way I experience the new year.
Listing 100 gratitudes was an arbitrary number I chose, and at first I thought it was quite ambitious; but when I got into the rhythm of it, 100 wasn’t much at all. It takes me about an hour to complete the activity, which I write by hand in order to manage the pace of my thinking and allow for reflection to sink in.
Gratitude is the last thing my eyes see and think about at the close of the year and entry into the new. I can’t think of a better transition than this.
Gratitude Helps Your Creative Work
If you study the habits of successful people you’ll notice a strong pattern in them creating a regular practice of writing down their gratitudes and keeping them in mind. Giving time to gratitude is like a meditation. It’s a pause. It slows your thinking and stress response, and it allows you to feel positive emotion. This in turn opens up the possibility for new ways of thinking.
Reflecting on how far you’ve come can inspire a new energy to keep going toward big goals. Thinking about encouragement received from others can recharge your confidence. Remembering the little things can help redirect thought processes into understanding personal values, assessing what’s truly important and viewing the larger picture of things.
“Practicing gratitude gets you in the habit of putting your attention on something outside the immediate ‘problem'[…]. It demands attention. By developing the ability to stop and be grateful right now, you train your mind to pay attention to just one thing and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.”How Gratitude Can Make You More Creative and Innovative, Inc.com
Where Do You Start?
To help you gain momentum, here are some questions to reflect on:
- Name someone whom you’re grateful for in helping you grow confidence?
- Name a quality about yourself that you’re grateful for.
- Name the first person that comes to mind when you think about someone sharing a smile with you.
- Think about a funeral you attended and recall your favorite memory of that person.
- Name something that nature has taught you.
- Recall a time when there was a positive outcome that you initially predicted to be negative.
- What are things you are grateful to have learned?
- What aspirations are you grateful to have stirring within you?
When you’re done writing your gratitudes, you shouldn’t just toss it aside. Read them. Feel the positive emotions of them. Put them in a place where you can reference at any time you need a pick-me-up. After a few years, it really starts to add up.
There are some years where I got caught up in busy and missed doing my gratitudes, and I can honestly say I felt its absence. The good news is that you don’t need a holiday to reflect on gratitudes. You can do this anytime. Aside from my NYE pause, I try to reflect on gratitudes in daily routine, but I’m not perfect. I get sucked into dwelling on the negative in my life more than I care to admit. We’re human, so resetting often is expected.
When you take focused time to find the good you’ll discover some memories that are like beautiful rare gems which cannot be labeled with a price tag of any kind. These gems will give you the fuel to drive you to your desired destination and a compass to stay focused on the best possible route. And should you ever breakdown along the way, you’ll have these life markers to remind you that you’ll get through this obstacle like how you have done so many times before, and people are there to help you even if just in mere thought.
So, I challenge you to give it a try. Set aside an hour to write down and reflect on 100 gratitudes from within the past year. Kick off the New Year on a positive perspective, and clear room for new creativity to enter.
—And if you want to try incorporating gratitude into a daily practice, download our free guide, Weekly Reflection Sheets.
I’m so grateful you’ve taken the time to read this, and I’m wishing you the very best New Year full of creativity, inspiration and joy.