Did you know Abraham Lincoln was the first President of the United States to make Thanksgiving an annual tradition through presidential proclamation? Here’s what he said in part:
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea, and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.
Which sounds great and all, right?
Yes, I know the Puritans and Pilgrims had their own Thanksgiving traditions, and so did some of the Founding Fathers, but Lincoln’s was the first to make it an annual tradition, mkay? And my point doesn’t change with any of those earlier celebrations.
Here's my problem
We’re supposed to set aside one day out of 365 to be thankful. That’s about 0.3% of our year we’re meant to be grateful for all the blessings we have in our lives.
And believe me, babe, we’ve got a LOT of blessings in our lives. Yes, even in 2020.
We’ve learned to be stronger and more resilient. We’ve found out just how strong we are. We’ve discovered new ways of doing things like working and educating our kids.
But we’re shoving all that gratitude for those huge things, plus all the daily and weekly godsends we experience regularly, into one teeny, tiny little 24 hour period?
I don’t fucking think so.
That’s why one of the first things I recommend for new clients is to start a gratitude journal. I write in one every day, and if I miss a day, I can feel it in my mental health. (I actually use a five notebook journaling system myself, but the gratitude one is most important.)
In your gratitude journal, every day, write down at least three things you’re thankful for. Every day. At least three things. Every. Day.
Now, on rough days, I’m thankful for air, food, and my bed. Or for the roof over my head, my caregivers, and Netflix. It doesn’t have to be anything profound.
Other entries in my journal
- (my systems coach) for helping me get my shit together
(my personal trainer) telling me I had good muscles, great flexibility, and perfect form
(someone I’d worked for) sending me a referral
It’s the artificially enforced one-day gratitude bomb I object to. We should all take the time to live in an aura of Thanksgiving year round. Turkey and all the fixin’s optional.
The five notebook system
As I mentioned, I use a five journal system to keep my mental health where I want it to be. The first notebook, which we’ve already discussed, is for gratitude. Everyday, I write down three things for which I am grateful.
The second notebook
The second notebook I use is called, “I profess.” It’s my notebook for powerful, positive affirmations, and I write at least three of them every day. Here are some examples:
Today I profess that I am strong and resilient.
Today I profess that I can ask for and accept help when I needed.
Today I profess that I am a professional writer.
Today I profess that I can do hard things.
Today I profess that I help other people overcome.
Today I profess that I’m not off to see the wizard, I’m off to be the wizard.
The third notebook
Notebook number three is my Rockstar notebook. In my Rockstar notebook, I write about all the things that I did well that day. At least three, although sometimes there are more. This is how I remind myself of all the good that I’ve done over time, especially since my memory is not that great. Here are some examples:
I am a rockstar because I got amazing feedback from multiple people on my writing yesterday.
I am a rockstar because I walked, unaided, from the bathroom to my bedroom after showering all by myself.
I am a rock star because I started the process of turning Positivity Powerhouse into a podcast.
I am a rockstar because I’m balancing getting shit done with not overworking myself.
The fourth notebook
The fourth notebook is sometimes the hardest one for me to fill. It’s my RAK notebook, for Random Acts of Kindness. These are things that I do for other people, without any expectation of gratitude or recompense, just for the joy of doing something for another person. I wholeheartedly believe that by doing random acts of kindness for others, more joy and abundance comes back into our own lives. Here are some examples:
I complimented my therapist and her supervisor on their shoes.
I took the time to answer a message in a Facebook group about how to get started as a freelance writer.
I did extra shopping for Caregiver 1 for Christmas because she totally deserves it.
In the line of the pharmacy at Kroger I helped a little old lady calm down because she was upset about how long the line was and how much time she’d spent waiting.
The fifth notebook
Last, but certainly not least, is my YAWP notebook, where I record my insane moments of courage. The term comes from a Walt Whitman poem, in which he says, “I sound my barbaric YAWP over the rooftops of the world.” Some examples include:
I advocated for myself with my primary care provider and got a new prescription for pain medication.
I let myself sleep all day.
I submitted a pitch to a website to be their freelance writer.
I gave my opinion in a group discussion that was contrary to the majority.
I turned down and underpaid job.
I fully participated in a Facebook challenge to build business, and I won part 3!
In a single day, I started my Facebook group, launched my podcast, submitted my podcast to iTunes and Spotify, and launched my YouTube channel.
As you can see these notebooks are incredibly valuable for mental health and self-compassion, because I can go back and look at the good days, and even the bad ones, to see what I did well, what I was thankful for, what random acts of kindness I performed for others, and what I was affirming every single day. I make a practice of reading the my notebooks, at least a couple pages, every day.
When you work with me, we’ll go into more detail about how to set up your notebook system, and both how and what to write for the best benefit to your mental health, your self-care, and your self-compassion. Interested in learning more? Schedule an achievement call with me!