For many years now, I have maintained a journaling practice around gratitude.  Every morning, I write in my journal and I finish my writing with a list of all that I am grateful for as I start my day.  I usually try to fill a page and each sentence begins with “I am grateful for…”

Although I know that this practice keeps me connected and aware of gratitude, this way of journaling has not helped me to bring the feeling of gratitude deep into my heart.  This journaling practice has helped me to think about gratitude and to notice what I am thankful for, but something has always felt like it was missing.  I wanted a deeply heartfelt connection to gratitude.

This past year, I read the book Grateful:  The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks by Diana Butler Bass and one of the suggestions that she makes is to have a few prayers or poems about Gratitude that you read at the beginning or the end of your day.  She offers a few poems and prayers that she uses from a number of different traditions.

I loved reading the prayers and poems that she offered and they sparked an idea for me.  What if I began to write my gratitude list as a prayer or a poem each day, would that make a difference?  Would this small change in how I was writing my list help me to make the journey from my head into my heart?

I can tell you that it has been making a difference.  Writing my gratitude as a prayer/poem makes the words flow together in an almost lyrical way that opens my heart to breathe in what I am writing about.  I am also finding that I am noticing different things to be grateful for as I practice gratitude in this way.  My heart opens up with the joy of the noticing and the joy of the writing.

Here is one example of my gratitude prayer:

For the awakening sun transforming the sky,
For this dawning new day and its many possibilities,
I say thank you.

For the smell of brewing coffee,
For the sounds of the crows talking,
For the first hug of the day from my husband,
For my favourite chair,
I say thank you.

For sight, smell, taste, touch and sound,
For these senses through which I interact with the world,
I say thank you.

For the laughter,
For the tears,
For the surprises,
For a heart able to feel it all,
I say thank you.

For the friendships,
For the connections,
For the trees, the sky, the clouds floating by,
For the rain and the snow,
I say thank you.

For this gift of life,
For this unfolding day,
For the mystery,
For the beauty,
I bow and say thank you.

One of the shifts that has taken place is in the way I express my gratitude, rather than saying ‘I am grateful for (fill in the blank)’, I am saying thank you, thank you, thank you.  This subtle shift has moved me directly into my heart space where I feel my gratitude deeply.

Perhaps you have been doing a gratitude practice for many years as well. 

What helps you move gratitude from a thought into a feeling in your heart?