Intention and gratitude journal
I would like to share with you a tool that I have been using every day for a few months. This journal has made a huge difference in the realization of my projects, in the achievements of my life and it brings me happiness, satisfaction and gratitude. This journal contains three sections: “My intentions”, “Feedback on my intentions” and “Gratitude”. I will explain each of the sections below. To make this journal or notebook, I was inspired by a book on happiness from Christine Michaud. She presents many tools in her book and I have selected ideas to make my own journal, that works best for me. You can make your own too. Let’s start with the first step.
First, chose a nice spiral notebook. I have only paid three dollars for a 5 by 7 inches size notebook. Then set your intentions of the day in the morning, your feedback and what you are thankful before bed. To make it very effective, I only fill up one page per day. The reason is simple, I like to spend only a few minutes on it. If you are like me and have limited time, this is a good format. These few minutes are worth the try. This is time for you and your personal growth. It requires discipline, which is not my top quality, but, it will bring you results if you persist. When I forget a section or skip a day, don’t feel any guilt! If we forget, we continue on the next day, that’s it. It is a tool to help ourselves and not to give ourselves more stress than we already have. For me, it’s very important to take only a few minutes and keep the information concise. This tool is not a journal for telling detailed stories like a diary. It’s a journal to focus on the main directions of the day and give yourself a feedback at the end of the day.
Section « My intentions »
In general, when I get out of bed, I fill up this first section called “My intentions”. I take about five minutes and use the first third of the page to write down my five intentions of the day. An intention is “A disposition by which one deliberately proposes a goal”, according to the Larousse dictionary (internet source). This allows me to organize the main priorities of the day. This is not a list of things to do in detail. For work, for example, I have another notebook with the tasks to do, which I check off when completed. This means that I do not need to put this information in my intention journal. In my journal of intentions, I limit myself to what is really a priority for this day, related to my path and my projects. Here are examples of statements:
- I will clean the pool this morning
- I will complete the file X today
- I will remain concentrate all morning on this particular task and will then, close my notifications and take my emails this afternoon
- I respect myself and I respect my limits
- I will choose my vacations today (date and place)
- I will write a post for my blog (be specific if you know)
- I will go to the cinema with my kids this afternoon
- I will search information on my subject of interest this afternoon
- I have an appointment with the doctor this morning
- I will take an appointment with the optometrist (here is a good example of the power of the tool. I have been thinking about this since months and never took action. By writing down this intention, I finally put my health vision in priority and took my appointment!)
- Tonight, I will take time to relax and watch my favorite movie
- I will take a walk at lunch time
- Tonight, I will make a nice supper for my family
- Tonight, I will take time to relax and listen to the playlist my friend suggest to me
- This afternoon, I will go get a gift for my friend
- Today, I include 5 minutes of meditation in my day
- I always write a general and positive intention to give the tone of my day such as: « Today will be an excellent day », « I will take the time to smile at people today », « I am starting this day with enthusiasm and will get closer to my dream with one task ».
The intentions that you will write down can vary depending of the day. The important thing is not to overload your time and to put a thousand intentions which cannot be achieved. This will only discourage the best intentions in the world! Isn’t hell paved with good intentions? The intention has to be realistic and connected to the reality of the day. Besides, this tool allows to manage stress and time since I identify, as soon as I wake up, what will be the big blocks of my day. If you have important appointment, include it in your intentions. This means that everything that comes up outside of these intentions for the day, except emergencies or opportunities that cannot be missed, should not be considered. Keep your focus on what must be done during the day. To achieve positive results, limit the number of intentions by asking yourself the following question: « Is this realistic?».
It is certain that the intentions will be reached or not according to the course of the day and the unforeseen. It’s normal. There are days when you will manage to achieve all of your goals. Some days, not. Some will not be achieved, some, postponed to the next day or in the near future, depending on the priority. Priority may change. It often happens that I put an action to do in my intentions, that I cannot achieve and that finally, I decide to remove, if it serves me, my priority and my objectives. As the definition indicates, you give yourself a goal and therefore to respect your goal is to respect yourself. But you can always change your mind! They are personal guidelines to set the tone of the day. The goal is that your intentions are at the service of your deep aspirations, your commitments and your responsibilities. Sometimes I’m uninspired in the morning because I’m feeling worse, tired, or just in a bad mood. So I look at the previous days and wonder, “Is there something I haven’t accomplished that I can do today? “,” Can I do something that will make me feel better? “. It is worth forcing yourself to find even two or three intentions. If you need rest, well, specify a time in the day to take this rest. By naming it and writing it down in your notebook, you give yourself the right to listen to what you need. Intentions also addresses our needs. It is important to listen to yourself to better identify your intentions. Intentions are not just things to do. Intentions are at the service of your well-being. The fulfillment of your intentions brings well-being and satisfaction. These are small daily steps that can bring you towards your life goals and that cultivate and bring water and sun in all spheres of our life: work, family, love, health, friendship, spirituality. Living according to our own intentions, day by day, in full awareness of what we choose, brings happiness and inner peace.
Section « Feedback on intentions »
At the end of the day, while I am in bed and before sleeping, I look back on my intentions that I set in the morning. This constitutes the second section, which I call “Feedback on intentions”. I take each of the numbered points from the section “My intentions” and I qualify the result or I make a brief comment.
Here is an example of 5 intentions that I wrote down from one of my day.
- I will clean the house this morning
- I will take a clear decision on vacation with my husband (place and date)
- I will write a blog post
- I will go with my kids to the cinema this afternoon
- This will be an excellent day and I will feel good
Here is an example of feedback on these 5 intentions.
- I could do the kitchen and my room, I will continue tomorrow. So, the next day, I will add this on my list because it is a big chunk of my day.
- We have decided the dates, now we have to find where!
- In progress
- Done, we went to see Pirates of the Caribbeans
- That was a lovely day
Note the result of each of the intentions summarily by a status. Each of the results brings an emotion, a positive effect of being in action, a wheel effect if I may say so, a continuation effect. Here are example of the status that I use:
- Positive inner speech: Mission accomplished (each small mission accomplished is a step forward!)
- Emotion that is created: I feel proud of the accomplishment achieved today.
- Concrete result felt inside of me: I am able to achieve what I set myself and I can therefore set other intentions, I can continue forward with my projects, my ambitions and my life goals . It gives me courage.
- In progress
- Positive inner speech: I’m glad I started my intention. Even if it’s not finished, I know I can continue it the next day until I can complete it.
- Emotion that is created: I feel proud, in action, in achieving my life goals.
- Concrete result felt inside of me : I bring water to the mill, I know I will continue this intention until it is fulfilled. It gives me courage to persevere and continue.
- Positive inner speech: It is not a big issue, I put this intention to the next day or another day, depending on the new priority that I give it. It is important not to feel guilty or to denigrate yourself. It’s just a matter of postponing this intention. It’s probably not that important in the day that has just ended. There are other days and you are the author of your daily story!
- Emotion that is created: I have power over my priorities and listen to my needs.
- Concrete result felt inside of me : I roll up my sleeves and plan for the next day or another day. I know I have the inner strength to do what I want.
- Positive inner speech: This intention or task no longer suits me. I listen to my head and my heart and decide that an intention is no longer necessary in my life journey.
- Emotion that is created: Instead of feeling guilty for not realizing this intention because it does not correspond to oneself, one frees oneself from what is not necessary to be integrated with oneself.
- Concrete result felt inside of me : You feel able to listen to your little voice, your emotions and your feelings.
Only spend 2 to 5 minutes on feedback. It’s really simple and effective. For myself, it provides me satisfaction even if I don’t reach all of my goals for the day. There is always a tomorrow to continue, to continue what is really important. And the beauty of the tool is that you assess what you really care about over time. You will learn about yourself, about what are your real intentions and priorities in your life. The feedback allows us to know if we have chosen the intentions correctly and to realign ourselves as we go along. Don’t be afraid of ridicule and be spontaneous!
Section « Gratitude »
Immediately after writing feedback on intentions, it is time to name five statements for what you are thankful from your day, which constitutes the third section, called “Gratitude”.
This section will allow us to thank life and to take into consideration the little things that life brings to us on a daily basis. Consider all these as things to be thankful for: the smile of a child, the nature, the nice temperature, to have a tea or coffee with a friend, the chance to have had free parking, the opportunity to sign a contract, the good supper you have prepared and which everyone has enjoyed, the physical condition allowing you to accomplish your tasks. All the moments of our day are full of attentions, gifts, opportunities to be thankful for. You can thank whoever you want, God, mother nature, your spouse, the teacher, a colleague or simply life. This exercise of naming five statements of gratitude ends the day on a positive note and fills a person with grace just before sleep. The statements are often related to the feedback of my day but not necessarily.
Here are some examples of statements of gratitude. Thank you for:
- Having a good time at family dinner (with teens, it’s more and more difficult to be everyone at the table!)
- To have received an opportunity for a new contract and to have held to my conditions
- To have taken a walk to admire the trees and flowers
- For the nice pleasant temperature
- For helping a colleague in a task and for being warmly thanked
- For the beautiful fireworks organized by the city
- For the good supper at the restaurant which was tasty
- For spending time with my children
- For the beautiful chalet we rented and the beautiful family weekend
- For our girls dinner
- To have incredible friends
- To have had the concentration to have a big day today
- For the smile of a man on the street
- For the beautiful garment that I found and that makes me feel good
- For the service my friend has rendered me
- For being able to pay all my accounts this month
- For having a nice comment today
Being thankful reflects how much our day was not so bad after all. Instead of focusing and ending the day on what went wrong, we are repositioning our inner speech on the good things that happened during the day. This positive perspective will allow to be in better harmony with yourself and with life and to feel gratitude. Looking at small happy moments brings joy. We don’t take enough time to count them in our emotional capital. By writing them, you remember et re-appropriate them a second time. Writing down the good times of the day reminds us of the joy, offers a second smile and a second balm on our hearts. During difficult times, reading pages of your notebook can be of considerable help. Negative emotions can overshadow and make you forget the positive aspects of everyday life. When nothing is going well and the emotions get tangled and blur the blue sky of your memories, the memory of your notebook will always be there to add some rays of sun.
Each night, the brain is working and it will continue to determine what it will put in this notebook, in this new page of your life, which continues day after day. Your conscious and unconscious will want to be at the service of your intentions, remember the good things, observe and remember the nice attentions, noble gestures and positive words. And the more our brain works in this direction, the better we feel. And the better we feel, the more we progress in our lives. The more we progress, the clearer our life goals become and the more they come true.
We are in the era of “power yoga”, “power nap” and “power quotes”. I would say that this tool is a “power self guidance”, a guide, a self-direction, a path that we determine each day and which brings us where we want to go. And all this, keeping our heart warm, filled with hope and enthusiasm in the morning before a new day given to us, then, filled with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude at the end of the day.
I hope you are inspired by this tool, that you will try it and that it will benefit you in your life journey. It is by spending a few minutes every day, that you will be able to see the power of this tool. For me, it has become a ritual that moves me forward day by day. I hope it does to you what it has been helpful to me. To connect to your actual needs, to your deep ambitions, to the person you are, and to help you, become a better version of yourself. I hope it will bring you a lot of positive emotions and happiness.
I also have a video on the subject on my Youtube channel. And I added a fourth section which I explain in the video.
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I wish you the best!