Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Beauty


Mindfulness practices are a great way to create a small but meaningful counterbalance to the hectic nature of life and leadership. Meditation, an elongated strategic pause in activity and thinking, is probably the most well-known. But many people enjoy more active mindfulness practices such as yoga, or, as I like to call it, “my morning stretches routine.” Activating our bodies can improve mindfulness. I tend to prefer “sauntering,” a form of meditation that involves walking rather than sitting.

The above practices share one thing in common: a gentle release of the thinking mind. But mindfulness can be verbal, too.

Journaling is, perhaps, the most common mindfulness practice. Whether in dedicated journals, the margins of their planners, or the notes apps on their phones, nearly all humans spend some time writing about what they’re thinking and feeling. As with any practice, the key is making it a habit. Beginners (or veterans who find themselves out of practice) often benefit from a theme or prompts to get them going.

For this reason, gratitude journaling is a common starting point for many. If you’ve somehow never heard of this practice, it’s just taking a few minutes at the end of the day to write down some things you’re grateful for. Simple, right? Of course, simple doesn’t always mean easy.

When I teach gratitude journaling in my coaching practice, there are always a few brave souls willing to voice their authentic concerns. Two of the most common are:

“What if I find that I am writing about the same three things every day?” and “What if I’m not feeling particularly grateful?”

I have read countless articles on the benefits of gratitude journaling. These include increased happiness, better sleep, improved physical health, and a host of others. The studies are clear: even when you’re repeating yourself, you’re getting the benefits. And even the struggle to find something to put down is beneficial!

Personally, I tend to write down the same five or so items each night. This isn’t due to a lack of gratitude, but rather to a focus on what I cherish. I was grateful for my friends yesterday, and I still have them today! That, in itself, is a cause for gratitude. I do get rather bored sometimes, writing those same five items down every day. But nobody ever said mindfulness is supposed to be a thrill ride!

I encourage you to experiment with traditional gratitude journaling, especially if you’ve never tried it before. But I wanted to offer an alternative that might resonate better with you.

Beauty and excellence journaling is an approach I’ve found success with lately. Instead of writing down things I’m grateful for, I journal about the beautiful and excellent things I noticed that day. These observations might come from the natural world, my life, my friends’ lives, my work…when I look back on my day with an eye toward the beauty and excellence I witnessed, I receive a counterbalance like no other. And that never fails to make me feel grateful.

So, I am setting the intention to create a habit, dare I say ritual, of deep gratitude in my observations of the world around me. This counterbalances the critic, the cynic, and the judge that live deep in my soul.

Try swapping your gratitude journal for a beauty and excellence journal as a temporary experiment. Pay close attention to how you show up differently. It might surprise you how quickly you see the benefits. Personally, I noticed a change after about a week. The weather bothers me less if allow myself to see the beauty in the rain or clouds. The people who can sometimes activate my judgmental side don’t bother me so much, not because they changed but because I am choosing to see them (and the world) just a little differently.

We can’t change others, we can’t change the weather, and we can’t change most of the circumstances that shape our lives. We know that. But we can choose how we see these things. As leaders, our attitude influences others—it’s up to us how we wield that influence. When we engage in mindfulness practices that help us focus on gratitude, beauty, and excellence, we can change the world.

What lens are you viewing the world through?

How can I help you see more beauty and excellence, and experience the world with gratitude? Send me an email at bill@getemergent.com if you’re interested in strengthening your mindfulness practice.

Posted in

Leave a Comment