Gratitude is the attitude many of us WANT to cultivate as a mom, but we have so much on our minds, and sometimes remembering how much we have to appreciate and be grateful for gets put on the backburner.
While gratitude is the attitude we know we *should* be focusing on, we also have a tendency to focus on problems, on not having enough time, being stressed, or overwhelmed.
To be fair, it is kind of our job to worry about all the things. Mama bears are known for their protectiveness and fierceness when it comes to looking out for our cubs.
We think of all the things that could go wrong and how we can avoid it. We think of everyone’s needs and ensure they are met, sometimes before the person even knows what they need themselves.
But with these mom superpowers of foresight and multitasking comes a cost. That cost can be negativity instead of an attitude of gratitude.
As we focus on prevented disasters and keeping everyone happy, we forget about all the things that are going right in our lives and what makes US happy.
It occurred to me the other day that I pretty much have everything I want in life. A husband I love, a beautiful home, an incredibly adorable and smart daughter plus twin sons.
However, I’ve always had this feeling like it’s not enough. I need more. To be better. To be more productive. To be a better mom. To have more sex. To go on more vacations. I always want more, more, more.
On one hand, it’s a good thing. I’m ambitious, driven, and am always up for a challenge. On the other, it’s a bad thing. If I’m always searching for something else, something more, something better, I can’t and won’t enjoy the now.
I can’t feel the joy that is already present in my life. And what’s worse is when I do finally achieve whatever I’ve set my eyes on, I’ll be so quick to move onto the next thing and not take the time to savor the win I just had or the goal I’ve just achieved.
Isn’t that a trap we can easily fall into as mothers? It’s so easy to always be reaching for the next phase of raising our kids because newborns are hard, then teething is hard, then the two’s and tantrums are hard, and it keeps going.
Parenting is hard. Period.
If we aren’t mindful we can get wrapped up in waiting for it to get easier before we truly appreciate and enjoy our days with these little humans. The truth is it will never get easy.
We have to learn to be grateful for the hard, for the mess, for the whirlwind of motherhood… and revel in it.
Easier said than done, right?
So HOW exactly do we cultivate gratitude? My absolute favorite way is through journaling, and starting a gratitude journal.
What is a gratitude journal?
It’s as simple as it sounds. A place where you write down what you are grateful for and what you appreciate. It can be at regular intervals, like daily, weekly, monthly, or you could just do it when the mood strikes.
(Though to get the most benefit from gratitude journaling, I suggest making it a daily practice.)
Why a gratitude journal?
There is plenty of evidence to show that keeping a gratitude journal can make you happier and even healthier! Sometimes it’s the simplest practices that we need to cultivate. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/12/24/678232331/if-you-feel-thankful-write-it-down-its-good-for-your-health
Research suggests that there are a ton of benefits in noting what you’re grateful for each day including:
Yale studies say a gratitude journal will result in higher alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy.
Stanford offers a high-demand class leveraging gratitude journals, which made students 27% less stressed.
Harvard studies indicate gratitude improves health and strengthens relationships.
UC-Berkeley research indicates a gratitude journal improves sleep and decreases illness.
Columbia research says gratitude improves the immune system, while reducing anxiety and/or depression.
How do you start a gratitude journal?
There are many ways to do this, but it can be as simple as pulling out your notes app and writing down three things you’re grateful each day. If it makes more sense for you, you can jot down what you are grateful for in the mornings to set the tone for your day.
Start by choosing the lowest possible bar you can. Don’t expect yourself to write 10 pages of things you’re grateful for every single day. Start small and reasonable by choose to journal in a way that works for you.
Maybe you hate typing on your phone so you keep a little journal and a pen next to your bed so you can get your thoughts down and always have the materials you need easily at hand. Perhaps you can just write in a freeform way on your computer while your baby is having that afternoon nap, or email it to yourself every day while the baby naps in your arms.
The point is to figure out what is actually achievable for you. Then just get started!
Where do you buy a gratitude journal?
My favorite places to shop for journals is either on Amazon, or at a local TJ Maxx. Local discount shops like TJ Maxx, Homegoods, etc. usually have really beautiful notebooks and journals for super cheap.
I also LOVE to use small Moleskin notebooks because I can stick them in a purse or even keep them stashed throughout the house so that when the mood strikes I can get some journaling in.
You can find my favs below:
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude might take time and practice, but gratitude is the attitude that moms can learn to embrace to be a happier, heathier and better mom all around.
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