More often than not, it’s not our blessings but our worries, fears and other nagging problems that keep us tossing and turning at night. Some days we may feel as if nothing is going our way: work meetings were stressful, the commute home was brutal, the kids forgot about a science fair project that’s due tomorrow… the list goes on. Because we are tired and frustrated, we might be snappish with our loved ones or take the simple pleasures, such as a home-cooked meal or a hot bath, for granted.
It’s easy to lose sight of all of the reasons we have to be thankful. Keeping a gratitude journal is one of many great journaling ideas that can refocus our attention to the positive aspects of our lives.
1. Open your regular journal to a new page, or start a new journal solely dedicated to this purpose. You can incorporate this exercise into your regular journaling activities, whether you prefer writing in the morning or scribbling “Night Notes” before you go to bed.
2. Reflect on everything and everyone that made you happy in the last 24 hours. Think about the people who supported you, activities that made you smile, small gestures that made your day. Nothing is too little to include in your list. Write down at least five to 10 items you are grateful for as they come to mind. Draw or paste pictures in your journal to accompany your writing if you feel artistically inspired.
- Meeting my friend Jason for coffee this afternoon—we hadn’t caught up in weeks and he made me laugh
- Noticing that my little windowsill herb garden is thriving
- Hearing my favorite song on the radio on the way to work and singing along loudly with it
- Passing by my favorite Thai restaurant and spontaneously deciding to indulge in take-out for dinner tonight
- Getting an email from my cousin who just found out her cancer is in remission
3. It might be hard to get started after a particularly tough day, but once you begin writing in your gratitude journal, you may find it’s hard to stop! After you finish your list for the day, reread each item while saying, “I am thankful for…”
Do you ever write gratitude entries in your journal? What journaling ideas do you use that keep you focused on the positive?