James Fueglein introduces his writing activity for Artfulness’ “Forming Connections” session with a story and some context for how to approach one’s gratitude journal practice.
In this activity, you will begin the practice of keeping a gratitude journal so that you can become more intentional about the ways that you focus on and pay attention to others. You can use this practice to strengthen your bonds and to deepen your connections to others, to make your interactions and relationships, your life and theirs, more fulfilling.
- Make sure there are no distractions where you are.
- Put your attention on your breath, but do not attempt to change it. Just feel the breath, noticing the contours of the cycles of inhalation and exhalation. When you attempt to follow your breath, your mind may wander. If your attention wanders, gently bring your focus back to your breath.
- Pick up your pen and paper. Brainstorm a list of all of the people you’ve had interactions with over the course of today. This can include close family members, colleagues, grocery store employees, joggers, anyone and everyone. Consider the ways in which you feel grateful for the people with whom you interact, and next to the name of each person, jot down why you feel this sense of gratitude for each person. Focus on why you should be present for each of these people, for not only what they have to offer you, but what you can offer them: attention, kindness, gratitude, empathy.
- Choose one person from your list and on a clean page copy down what you’ve written about this one person. Go deeper. Consider not only why you are grateful for this person, but also think on how you can make your interactions with this person stronger. Consider all the ways you think your interactions with this person could be more positive.
- Make this a regular practice. Begin and maintain as faithfully as you can a gratitude journal. In a small notebook near the end of each day, make a quick list of the people you’ve had interactions with over the course of that day, be they close family members, friends, co-workers, classmates, or strangers. Consider the ways in which you feel grateful for the people with whom you interact, and next to the name of each person, jot down why you feel this sense of gratitude for each person.
- Also consider and keep track in your journal of the ways you think your interactions could be more positive. Do you feel you interact with others generally in positive ways? Do you express gratitude to others? In what ways can you make your interactions with others more positive?
If you would like to keep track of time during this activity, please click the bar below when you begin. At the end of 20 minutes, you will hear a set of chimes to indicate time is up. You can reset the timer for another 20 minutes by clicking RESET at the top right.