Gratitude is one of the most powerful states that we can be in. The more you cultivate gratitude in your life, the more you find to be grateful for. Gratitude is a powerful antidote for negative emotions. It’s next to impossible to feel grateful and at the same time frustrated, angry or resentful.
As the year draws to a close, I invite you to take some quality time to reflect in gratitude on all the gifts you have received. This ritual will help you complete your year in a positive way. As you reap the learning, acknowledge your accomplishments, celebrate your success and appreciate your blessings, you naturally plant seeds for a happy, fulfilling New Year.
Create a Gratitude Mind-Map
Put on your favourite music, pour yourself a cup of tea and pull out a large, blank sheet of paper (letter size to poster size) as well as pens, pencils, colourful markers or crayons.
I like to use mind-mapping for my reflections as this technique beautifully mirrors the way our brains work. Begin by writing your core statement in the centre of your sheet of paper, such as ‘I am grateful this year, because…’ or ‘Thank you for 2016’.
Draw a circle around your core statement. Then invite memories of this past year to arise within you. You may want to begin by choosing broader aspects of your life that you want to acknowledge, such as family, friendship, home, community, career, finances and health.
Choose words that resonate for you as you think about your year. Personally, I also like to include aspects such as choices, learning, moments of joy and accomplishments.
From the centre of your intention, draw lines outward, write your chosen words and circle each one. Then from each of your words, draw lines outward. At the end of each line, write down specific events, accomplishments or experiences that contributed to this aspect of your life this year. You may want to choose a different colour for each of these aspects of your life.
Reflect on each of these aspects through the lens of gratitude. Here are a few prompts to get you started:
Gratitude for Moments of Joy
Let yourself remember a few joyful moments. Let each of these moments come alive again in your mind and write them down with a feeling of gratitude. Joyful moments are a true reflection of what matters most to you, what energizes and inspires you.
Personally, I enjoy this one the most. It is such a joy to relive all the special, wonderful moments in my imagination. Acknowledging your joyful moments may also lead to greater clarity of what you want to create more of in the year to come.
Gratitude for Love and Friendship
Think about the people in your life who’s presence nourishes you deeply, people who inspire you, people you trust and can count on.
Capture the gratitude you feel for these people as you write down how their presence is making a difference in your life.
Let yourself feel surrounded by a web of love and friendship. Notice the qualities that you most appreciate about people in your life. These qualities represent some of your core values. How may you nurture these qualities more within you in the New Year?
Gratitude for Health
Give thanks for the gift of health. If you are experiencing some health challenges, this is the moment to look for what’s going well. For many years I suffered from digestive problems. During that time, it helped me to remember all my blessings, such as my strong, healthy heart, clear, vibrant lungs and flexible limbs.
Then acknowledge the ways in which you have taken good care of yourself this year, such as joyful movement, healthy meals, good sleeps, relaxing baths or massages. Give thanks to how you sustain and improve your health with your choices.
Gratitude for Success
What went well this year? What did you do right? Anything big or small is a candidate: from creating a regular yoga practice to refurbishing a piece of furniture to planting your garden.
Jot all your accomplishments with gratitude. Celebrating what’s going well and looking for success actually creates more of it in your life.
Gratitude for Growth and Learning
Let’s face it, most likely you also faced some challenges this year. The great news is that even challenging experiences can be explored through the lens of gratitude. They are truly opportunities for growth and learning, which in turn are things to be grateful for.
Think about a few people who you’ve experienced some challenges with this year. Maybe they’ve said or done things that hurt or upset you? Perhaps their behaviour rubbed you the wrong way? What if these people were your teachers? What might you learn from them? Give thanks for the learning and wish these people well.
Think about a few disappointments you have experienced this year. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you were hoping for. Perhaps you have suffered from injuries, loss or sadness. Something may not have panned out the way you hoped. You may not have achieved a goal that you had set yourself this year.
What if these experiences were your teachers? These challenges may very well offer you great insight about what truly matters to you. Look at these disappointments through the lens of learning and give thanks for how they’ve helped you grow. Acknowledge yourself for the way you have navigated through challenging patches this year. Appreciate your courage to take risks this past year.
Gratitude for Family
Give thanks to your family. Your family may be a source of joy, love, connection, support or a source of challenge, frustration and disappointment. Most people have mixed feelings when they think of their families.
Begin by giving thanks for the ways you feel supported and nourished by your family.
Then continue on to also giving thanks for the challenges your family brings up in you. Appreciate how these challenges allow you to continue to grow and learn about what deeply matters to you.
Gratitude for Something Greater Than Life
You may wish to acknowledge a power greater than you that supports you at all times. Whatever you call this power God, Buddha, The Source, Mother Nature, Yahweh, Creator, Great Spirit, Intuition or something else. Take a moment to give thanks for the loving guidance you receive from this power.
Once I had acknowledge the divine presence in my life, I circled back to the beginning and drew a little heart for each person who I connected with this year.
By drawing the heart, I acknowledged the Divine in each of them and felt so much gratitude for their presence in my life. This amplified my feelings of love, gratitude, abundance and trust even further. Give it a whirl and notice the impact it has on you.
Now that you have completed your year in a positive way, you are ready to welcome the New Year with arms wide and an open heart.
To expand the positive ripple effect of gratitude even further, please share this tool with your friends on social media.
Julia James is a certified life coach and award-winning author of the book, The Mini-Retreat Solution. With over ten years experience coaching people through positive career transformations, Julia is passionate about helping people connect with their true calling.