How to be Grateful

gratitudeDoes anybody have the same difficulty I do with that axiom that you should be grateful for what you have now, while, at the same time, setting intentions for what you want to change in your life? If we are so grateful in the here and now, why are we planning to change it?

Of course the simple answer is that life is all about growth and change, and to stay still is to stagnate. But there are times when I am so eager to manifest change, that I forget to be grateful for what I already have on this day. That’s mainly because I am lacking awareness of who I am and what is around me in this very moment. I think I am not alone in this, we all do that at least some of the time! And this is where I can use writing to help me become more mindful.

Have you ever tried writing a Gratitude List? It’s easy to do – take some paper and write the numbers 1 through 50 down the sides of the pages. Then write 50 things you are grateful for in your life right now. It doesn’t all have to be too deep – you can be grateful for that good cup of tea you had at breakfast, or for that flower you saw in the garden.  But you can also add bigger things to the list, like people who love you, or some personal talent or ability you possess. Don’t think too hard, just start writing the list and see what comes out.

But sometimes there are days – and I’ve had them, too – when things seem black and it is very hard to feel gratitude at all. That may be the day when writing a Gratitude List is most valuable. On days like that I start my Gratitude List like this:

(1) the air that I breathe

Think about it – air is a gift we are all freely given, every day of our lives, every moment of our lives. It gives us our very life. And there is no charge for it, we don’t have to earn it. It is something to be grateful for in every moment. When I write that down, I realize that there is always something to be grateful for, and I quickly find more things to write on the list.

Give it a try! And see how you may become just a bit more mindful of all that is good in your life at this very moment.

Is Writing a Blog Good for You?

writeThe most recent Poetry News from the Poetry Society arrived today and, aside from seeing that I had not won the National Poetry Competition (no surprise there – they had 13,170 entries!), there is an article suggesting that blogging is good for poets. A number of poets who blog shared their thoughts, and some said a few interesting things – blogging feeds the writing of their own poetry; other poets’ blogs have inspired them; and blogging provides a more solid alternative to social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Though this comes with the warning that blogging cannot be allowed to distract from the time spent writing actual poetry.

Perhaps this article suggests the plain truth that writing breeds more writing. The more time spent working expressively with words, the more creative we become. This reminds me of what I once heard Roger McGough say, during a reading of his poetry at Stephen Joseph Theatre: ‘The more I write —- the more I write!’.

Oh yes, and about those 13,170 entries to the National Poetry Competition. What brilliant evidence that poetry is not a dying art, but is intensely vibrant and well in the world.

It’s Not Fair!

frustrationIt’s not fair! Do you ever find yourself saying that? I know I do sometimes. The feeling that somehow life is treating me unfairly very often arises from a perceived notion that other people are somehow better off than I am. Perhaps they own more or better things than me, or seem to have great connections with other people, or wonderful jobs, or just seem to be so happy. Some people never seem to put a foot wrong and have all the luck.

But ‘seem’ is the operative word here. We are acutely aware of what we think we lack in our own lives, but we never fully know what challenges other people face, or what troubles they have had in their past. No one gets a free ride. We all need the courage to face any number of things in our daily lives – if not today, then tomorrow.

That’s why some of my favorite guided writing activities have to do with finding a new perspective. When your mind gets stuck in an accustomed pattern of thinking, perceiving lack and unfairness – what you need to do is step outside this circle of thoughts. There are a myriad of writing activities which allow you to take a different view of yourself or your circumstances – by, for example, writing from the perspective of another person or even from the perspective of an inanimate object. Perhaps you can introduce an unexpected element into a familiar situation through your writing, to make the familiar extraordinary. Stepping back from your customary way of thinking allows you to see things more objectively, and achieve greater empathy – both with other people and with yourself. You may find that you become more grateful for what you have, and achieve more balance in your daily life.

But I’ll leave gratitude as the topic for another post!

Why Do Writing for Wellbeing?

I came to practice Writing for Wellbeing in the way many therapists come to their practice – I was looking for something to help me through difficult times. Having experienced the bereavement of losing someone close to me, I started doing journal writing as an outlet for grief. At first, my journal was a catharsis – it was a safe place to tell my troubles, a private place where I could say anything I liked. My initial tentative entries were a few lines long, but soon my journal became my friend and I wrote more and more. pen and notebook onlyIt was a great way to offload. But after a while, I discovered that this wasn’t enough. I found that troubles were all I wrote about, and my journal concentrated on the perceived negatives in my life and few of the joys. I had become so accustomed to writing in this way, that I was unable to turn the negatives into positives. My journal had become a record of misery. I needed help, I needed direction. I needed a way out of this cycle.

There are many ways to break a cycle of misery, whatever the cause. Meditation and NLP helped turn me around, and it was then I came to understand more about how I could use my own creativity to help myself grow out of grief and into new possibilities. Through writing therapy workshops, I learned that guided activities in writing are powerful tools in gaining new perspective, greater self-understanding, and a whole new outlook on effecting change in one’s life. I conceived a passion to help others with what I had learned, and thus have become a practitioner of Writing for Wellbeing. We all of us have a wellspring of creativity in us, and sometimes all we need is a little guidance to help us use that creativity to open up our potential.

Welcome to my blog!

New blog coming soon

Sometimes I feel like this little guy when I sit down to write – it can seem so difficult to pick up that pen and get started. But I remember that even the longest novel was written one word at a time. And once a few words are on the page, anything wonderful might happen! So that’s what this blog is all about – exploring what happens when one sits down to write, some ideas that are generated, and how guided writing activities can inspire personal growth. Thanks for reading!