November might seem to be just another thirty-day short month but in recent years it has become a month whose focus is health. I cannot think of a better way to make ordinary living extraordinary than to improve one’s personal health.
Movember is a trend that has caught on in the last several years where men grow out their beards to bring attention to men’s health. For centuries men have been told to forge on and ignore various aches and pains. This might have been necessary in the Dark Ages when men had to move boulders and hunt for food but it did not equate to healthy men. Women have been outliving men for quite a long time, mainly because men historically do a poor job of being attentive to their own health needs. Movember seeks to bring that into focus and encourage men to see a doctor regularly and follow healthy practices.
November is also known as NaNoWriMo month. That acronym stands for National Novel Writing Month and everyone can participate, even if writing the next great novel is not one of your goals. Everyone can and should keep a journal, whether you do it old school with pen and paper and with modern technology.
The advantages of journal writing are plentiful and most successful and famous people have kept a diary or a journal. The difference between the two is minimal and either can seem daunting if writing is not in your comfort zone.
Why not keep a gratitude journal? A gratitude journal is a short list, complete sentences not even necessary, of things for which you are thankful. Keeping a gratitude journal is perfect for busy people and our modern-day hectic living. You can set a reminder on your iPad or smart phone and, before retiring for the night, enter three or four things for which you are grateful that occurred during the day.
Daily notation such as in a gratitude journal often provides a safe, cathartic release valve for the stresses of daily life. There are both mental and emotional benefits of writing. Keeping such a journal can improve self-esteem and put the day into perspective. Not only does this make you feel good, it affords on the opportunity to re-live events experienced in a safe environment where they can be processed without fear or stress.
Remember, this is not the history of your last twenty-four hours. Just notate several things that were good about the day or that did not become monumental catastrophes. For instance, you might be grateful that traffic was not at a standstill during rush hour. Maybe you pass by a bakery on your way to the office and you are grateful for the wonderful smell of fresh cookies; you can also be grateful you did not give into temptation and purchase six dozen to eat all by yourself!
Writing for lifehacker.com, Alan Henry writes: “Regular writing can be functional, too, and serve as a reminder of mistakes you’ve made, accomplishments you’re proud of, and great moments you want to remember. For example, keeping a work diary can serve as a track record of mistakes and successes. That written record can come in handy later when you’re feeling down, but they can also help you right your personal ship when you’re feeling lost.” Sometimes I am simply grateful that I made it to the end of the day. Later I can go back and realize that no matter how terrible the day might have seemed, I have lived through worse and survived. Then I am grateful for having made it through another day.
There’s a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness and journaling puts us into that state of mindfulness. Our past frustrations and future anxieties tend to lose their edge in the present moment. Keeping a gratitude journal calls a wandering mind to attention and creates the opportunity from passivity to actively engaging with your thoughts.
We make the ordinary extraordinary when we become active participants in our living. Keeping a gratitude journal helps put our living into focus and makes us conscious of the positive. What might seem like just any ordinary day becomes extraordinary when we realize it is a time in which we had something for which to give thanks. That makes it a very great day, an extraordinary day.