Beyond Grateful - A One-Page Positivity Journal
Feeling grateful vs thinking grateful
If you've ever used the words, "I felt beyond grateful..." then you were probably feeling and trying to express your heartfelt gratitude, the kind of visceral body-gratitude which decreases stress and really FEELS good. But if you used the words "I felt grateful", especially in a rote way, it could have been a kind of intellectual gratitude, the kind of "grateful" which was more a thought than an actual feeling. It may have been what positive psychology researcher Barbara Fredrickson calls "negativity in disguise" a kind of lip-service gratitude which doesn't decrease stress or make us feel any better. While we might be able to fool our minds, the body knows the difference between feeling grateful and only thinking grateful, just like it knows the difference between a smile you force for a camera vs a smile you can't contain when you're delighted to run into an old friend.
Feeling positive more often that feeling negative reduces overall stress
Heartfelt feelings can be subtle and fleeting though, or as Fredrickson writes: Good feelings come and go, much like perfect weather. It's the way we humans were designed. So she suggests not to fight the ephemeral nature of our feelings, but to hold our experiences lightly. She posits that the "secret" to reducing the overall stress in our lives is not trying to feel positive all the time, but instead to experience more heartfelt positivity relative to our experiences of heart-wrenching negativity. The ratio of positive to negative feelings over the course of a day or a week, really matters. And even though we can't make ourselves feel a particular feeling, we can "seed" positive feelings, and become more aware of what naturally triggers us to feel even small moments of positivity, more frequently.
A One-page Positivity Journal
"Gratitude" has certainly been celebrated for good reason, and has been touted as the "antidote to frustration" and the "antidote to unhappiness." Still, it's just one of the many different flavours of positivity. Personally, I often find it's much easier for me to feel "heartfelt inspiration" than "heartfelt gratitude" and so this month's free colouring download spotlights 12 ways to feel "beyond grateful." Here are the 12 words I chose for this month, and which are embedded in the mandala design you can also colour in:
They're not the "top 10 feelings" most studied by positive psychology researchers, but 12 words which most spoke to me drawn from both general positivity research and research on models of happiness. We're all different though, so you may want to replace my 12 with other words of your own. Feel free to use the blank spaces on the page to record an experience related to each of the positive feelings, or to write down what "seeds" or triggers those feelings for you. I hope you find this mandala a delightful and useful gift to reduce your own stress this month. (And it can also be really fun to colour in and discuss with friends over some tea and treats.)