One Simple Practice to Transform Your Evenings!
How to use the power of gratitude to enter your evenings with grounded clarity, ease, and joy.
Gratitude is many things: an emotion, a trait, a quality (e.g., “a grateful person”), and even a skill. As a skill, it can be practiced and developed, which is excellent news for us!
Even if you're not feeling grateful, with practice, you can. It has a lot to do with where you're directing your attention, and creating the space--even if only for a few moments--to notice what you might otherwise overlook.
For the past two years, I’ve been working from home. While I love working from home, sometimes my work/non-work life can really blur together, leaving way too much space for uneasiness and overwhelm to take hold. My mind absolutely loves to focus on the never-ending to-do list, and all of the unfinished tasks and responsibilities that are in front of me. Working from home means that those responsibilities and tasks are always just down the hall.
Recently, I’ve brought back one of my favorite gratitude practices into my life: the “end of the workday gratitude journal,” and it’s made ALL the difference in the world! This simple practice is one you can do at the end of any day to help transition from the “busy” and task-focused part of the day, allowing you to refocus your attention to the magical connection time of your evenings.
The practice is simple. When I start winding down my workday, I write a list of the things that I want to focus on the following day and circle the one thing that is the most important to complete. This helps my mind realize that a plan is in place for the next day. Then, I do the following:
Close my laptop and exhale, and say out loud: "I’m done working for the day.
Put my “tomorrow list” on top of the closed laptop. I can feel my mind settle into a little bit ease with just that element of my practice!
Organize my desk so it will feel welcoming when I return
Bring out my journal and write about the things and experiences that I had that day. If they were challenging, I reflect on the lessons learned and the growth initiated in the process of feeling the not-so-fun emotions. If they were awesome, I write about what I found so awesome about them. This part takes an average of 5 to 10 minutes.
I close the journal, stand up, and offer a gentle bow to my little office space, and say, “Thank you for the work done here today. May it be of benefit for the highest good.” This simple practice helps me connect to something bigger, and to remember the deeper desires behind my work. It's not about getting through a to-do list, but to be of service, to connect, and to help.
It’s been such an interesting practice! I used to do a similar practice when leaving my therapy office, but I somehow didn’t quite take it home with me—until now. And I’m so grateful I did. I’m sleeping better and leaving my workday feeling complete with a little more ease in my body and mind.
It’s no surprise. Research reminds us that practicing gratitude—actively choosing to bring our attention to the gifts in our lives and feel the experience of receiving those gifts offers us benefits, including:
More satisfying relationships
Lowered blood pressure
Reduced aggression, irritability
Increased immune resiliency
With all of these benefits, it’s challenging to come up with reasons not to practice. Of course, feeling grateful—especially when things haven’t gone according to plan—can be challenging. It’s also the time when gratitude can be most useful as a transformative practice.
Gratitude helps to shift our worldview. Gratitude can take us from scarcity to abundance, from a place of overwhelm to one of clarity.
Connecting with gratitude helps us to expand our perspective to see the blessings that lie alongside the challenges. Gratitude helps us to the big picture and to realize that even in the most difficult of moments, there is something that we can receive.
At the end of a workday (e.g., homeschooling day, juggling chores day, emails & zoom meetings day, etc.), formally pausing and giving thanks to the tiny—or big—gifts that were sprinkled throughout helps us to see our experience as a whole. It helps our brain integrate our experiences by creating new neural pathways to balance the mind's negativity bias.
That’s the power of Gratitude!