#365 Gratitude Journal Challenge
Have you ever tried doing something (one thing) for 296 days straight? I have! I wrote a gratitude journal every day on this blog for 296 days. Here’s how 296 looks like:
- 296 days equals 9.86 months
- One journal average 600 words, that works out to 177,600 words
- Every journal took an average of 3 hours to write, edit and post, that works out to 888 hours of writing
Daunting statistics, I must say. As I put the numbers in perspective right now, I found it unbelievable that I’ve done all that.
28 January 2016 – this started off as a personal challenge for myself, which was to write one gratitude journal every day for 365 days. This blog was started years before then. It has not been active as I’ve been procrastinating to write. This challenge was to push my limits to write for a whole year.
It was a tall order, no doubts about it. Not many thoughts crossed my mind at that time, and I set off on my writing journey. Day after day, I wrote and I wrote.
My theme was about personal development. Whatever that came to my mind, something that happens that day, a past experience that stirs me, an incident or a person that created tickets me. I wrote about my experiences on that matter, how it impacted me, what I did about it, and at the end, what gratitude lesson did I derive out of that matter.
I was deligient in my writong. I steal time to write even when I was traveling. I looked forward to each day when I had finished writing, editing and hit post. It was exhilarating.
True that on some days I slacked. I got busy, I was working long hours, I was too tired to even hit the computer when I got home. But I managed to catch up with my writing schedule. I was on track.
I was happy when I hit the 100 days mark. It was an amazing feeling. Don’t this looks like a cover for a book? I reflected about my writing, past post, how I overcame challenges, writer’s block, what I’ve learned, and plans moving forward.
My Gratitude Stories
One of my “big” plan was in fact writing a book, or rather a compilation of true stories about gratitude in peoples’ lives. This is not about me. I believed that everyone has something to be grateful for in their lives, and there’s a lesson to learn from each gratitude.
I even created a list of people that I would approach to write those stories. In fact, I’ve spoken to a few people who have agreed to be featured in this book. My target was 50-80 stories.
This book will be imply titled “My Gratitude Stories“. This is not the exact book cover, it was created out of a software for designing books and covers. My name and picture was at the bottom right. I was dead serious.
I’m a Gratitude advocate and I think it’s important to be grateful in life. Life is challenging as it is. There’s no ends to means in whatever you’re after, whatever you aspires to be and to do.
There’s always something better, money will never be enough, you can never be good enough, a bigger house in a nicer district, a better car, more vacations, promotions and a little more luxuries. You can keep on pursuing more of what you want, and it will still be insufficient.
The truth is, if you can’t be happy and grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you can be happy when you get “just a little more”?
Stumbled and Fall
Journal 296 was the last journal before my fall, not physically, but in many ways, I fell into a rut. As I read journal 296 right now, I was reminded of a season of uncertainties that I was in at that time.
I had a bad season with investment, financial issues and work. To top it off, some other deals didn’t work out. I was totally stressed. I was drained financially, emotionally, I felt cheated and used. I felt helpless. I was lost. I felt alone, I went rock bottom and landed in a cold dark pit.
No one knew what was happening. I didn’t want my problems to affect the people around me. As normal as I could, I had to live for my family, I had to continue to work on the Aikido business.
I was home alone on most days, not having much work then. There was no one to talk to except myself. I was shattered, in pain and depressed. I was fearful of the uncertainties ahead.
I stopped writing my gratitude journals, almost abruptly. My Gratitude Stories did not get started. I had lots of time, but I didn’t have the energy nor the inspirations to write.
I felt empty not writing, but nothing spurs me into writing. I fell off track, the days got by, the journals lagged far behind schedule. The only thing on my mind was, though I was not writing, I’m not giving up on this blog, on anything and everything.
I knew I had to get out of this season fast. How apt was the title of journal 296, “Staying Motivated in Tough Seasons“, how timely were the contents I wrote on this journal, reproduced in parts here:
1. The purpose behind each purpose. Everything happens for a purpose, and there’s a greater purpose behind. Think not about the things that happen to you, instead, why it happens for you?
2. Bad season will come to pass. No matter how tough, how challenging, how difficult things may seem, it will end, just like a passing season. It may be over before you knew it.
3. Focus on solutions. Don’t sit around waiting for a problem to pass you by. Focus on solutions to resolve the issues at its core. If you stay passive and cast it behind, it may surface as a bigger problem the next time.
4. Live with courage. Challenging days are part and parcel of our life journey. You may be faced with a different challenge each day, even on good season. Have the courage to pursue and take on each challenge as they come along.
5. Continue to have faith in yourself. Without faith, you’d fall short of the courage and fighting spirit to tackle the difficult times. Believe that with each passing day, things will get better and the situation will improve.
6. Motivate others. It’s not absurd at all. See beyond your own situation and encourage others who are facing similar challenges to hold on, fight and they’d surely see results and changes one day.
7. Do not give up. As long as you do not stop and give up, I believe you’d see rainbow at some points in time. Hang on!
Yes! No matter how down I got myself into, how bad my situation becomes, I chose to motivate myself. Everyday is a day in a season. No season last forever, it will come to pass. Every lesson learned in a tough season prepares me for bigger challenges and better things in future.
Fortunately, I met some good people and kicked off some new collaborations. There, I took flight again. It’s not good and sunny all the time, but it keeps me busy and lifts me up. Getting back to active training and small private coaching rekindle my passion to empower lives. I realized my love for being with and helping people live better lives by transferring knowledge, and teaching them new skills. It’s my honor and pleasure to be a Trainer and Coach!
Is Gratitude Conditional
Has anybody ever pondered about this? To many, Gratitude is an understatement. Haven’t you heard enough of
- I’d be grateful if I get that promotion
- I’d be grateful if I have a bigger car
- I’d be grateful if I have a better jo
- I’d be grateful if I have higher salaries
- I’d be grateful if my boss is nicer
- I’d be grateful if I were slimmer
- I’d be grateful if I am better looking
- I’d be grateful if I have a bigger house
- I’d be grateful if I can take more vacations
The list is endless, I’m sure you can agree with that. So, is gratitude conditional? Without realizing, it might have been for some people.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting more or becoming better. Yet, it’s equally important to acknowledge what you already have and be happy with it, at least for the fact that you’ve achieved that. That’s gratitude. Then, you can move on to bigger purpose and things. If your attitude is one of “never enough”, you have a “lack mentality” and you’ll be like a guinea pig in the rat race, running around a vicious cycle.
I Am Grateful
I’ve learned a lot from my gratitude journals, as well as episodes of this tough season. I don’t know how I got by 296 straight days of writing, but those were my happiest times. To sum up:
1. For a person who loves to write, writing gives me full expression of my emotions, thoughts and put my learning and experiences into traces that I can referred to again and again. Most of my sharing are timeless and can be applied even in changing times.
2. I knew of a few people who have read and told me they enjoyed my writing and they learned something from it.
3. I often write about problems that I encounter. For every problem, I researched, brain-stormed, talked to people and found some solutions. I learned something new each time, and solved a problem along the away.
4. I became a more open person as I begin to share my feelings, emotions and thoughts in public while writing my journals.
5. Writing helps me become more organized with my thoughts as I put the contents in perspective. Otherwise, it would have been difficult to read if the contents didn’t flow smoothly.
6. I learned not to give up. Even when I stopped writing, I’ve never once wanted to give up this blog. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to.
7. I became more grateful. All my journals end with “Today’s gratitude lesson”, what I am grateful for in the subject matter that I wrote about.
8. I learned to be grateful even for bad things that happened. Now, life is not good all the time. It is easy to be grateful for happy things. Since writing the journals, I’ve learned to find something to be grateful about in every good, every circumstances and challenges.
What about the Gratitude Journals?
Since 18 Nov 2016 and gratitude journal 296, I’ve written only 3 other gratitude journals. To be more specific, I’ve posted 3 journals. In actual fact, I’ve never stopped writing. I wrote on my journal book, yes I do have one where I write private stuffs, I scribbled on bits of paper and post-it pads.
At times, they’re full length post, sometimes they’re points and short paragraphs. However, I did not put in efforts to write and post them thereafter.
Moving forward, I hope to keep this blog alive. The least I could do is to finish the 365 journals. Knowing myself, I could never stopped writing because it was an important conduit to express myself.
I’m not sure how often I’ll write but as it is, I couldn’t keep my hands off writing. There’s a big funnel of written contents that I couldď expand and post them daily for the next 2 months. I certainly hope to build a writing routine and commitment.