I recently went on a pinning spree! My Pinterest was filled with all kinds of interesting pins about mental health, mindfulness, journaling, and meditation. And it was just what I needed!
Honestly, I’ve had a bad attitude lately. Everyone and everything gets on my nerves. I see flaws in everything – even things that I normally look forward to and enjoy.
It’s gotten so bad that I’m tired of myself. I get on my own nerves, because I KNOW that I’m being ridiculous. But I really can’t seem to break this cycle of negative thinking.
Instead of just mindlessly pinning these things, I took the time to actually read each article. Along with a lot of hippie-dippy garbage, I also found legitimate research on the benefits of gratitude journaling.
This article from Harvard Health Publishing stated that people that wrote about their gratitude for 10 weeks were ‘more optimistic and felt better about their lives’.
Another study found that writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, which has a significant impact on mental and physical health.
This study found that keeping a gratitude journal caused study participants to report 10% less physical pain and 16% fewer physical symptoms.
Also, patients with hypertension had a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure after using their gratitude journals just once a week.
Researchers at the University of Berkeley found that gratitude “produces better mental health by shifting one’s attention away from toxic emotions, such as resentment and envy.”
This is just a fraction of the research that I found on this topic. It’s an undeniable fact that expressing gratitude in writing has many physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
So, I decided to start my own gratitude journal.
What is a Reverse Bucket List?
I thought the best way to begin gratitude journal would be to do a Reverse Bucket List.
To create a reverse bucket list, you write down a list of your achievements or things that you have already crossed off of your bucket list.
After writing my reverse bucket list, I discovered that there were many achievements that never made it to my bucket list.
Nonetheless, these achievements were a major part of my life and are some of the proudest moments I have ever known.
My Reverse Bucket List
My reverse bucket list is full of personal achievements, such as finishing my degree. It also has some traditional bucket list travel items, such as the Empire State Building. Yet there are also personal highlights, such as becoming a mom.
No matter how deep or how trivial these ‘accomplishments’ may seem to others, they are the what I consider some of the best days of my life. These events fill me with gratitude and appreciation for all of the wonderful opportunities I have been blessed with. And that is the whole point of this exercise!
Here is my reverse bucket list, so far:
- married my soul mate
- became a mom
- finished my degree
- traveled outside of the U.S (3 times!)
- snorkeled over the Meso-American reef
- helped Lyvi overcome autism
- visited 5 national parks
- drove the same vehicle for more than 10 years
- paid off ALL of our debt before turning 30
- learned another language
- lived in 4 different states
- took my mom to Vegas
- stood on top of the Hoover Dam
- started a blog (& kept it going!)
- saw the tulip & daffodil fields in Skagit Valley
- taught myself how to refurbish furniture
- hiked through a real jungle to see a waterfall
- worked a meaningful job (disaster relief)
- saw the cherry blossoms in Washington D.C.
- overcame postpartum depression
- have been both a SAHM and a working mom
- stood on the Empire State Building & saw the Statue of Liberty
- toured our nation’s Capital
Writing down these highlights in my life, was as much an exercise in gratitude as writing thank you notes. Making a reverse bucket list was a great way to kick off my foray into gratitude journaling.
I plan on gratitude journaling a couple of times each week and I’ll keep the blog updated on my progress!