I began keeping a gratitude journal in 2014 when I was 24 years old. I had just gotten engaged, moved to a new city, and started a new job and I wanted to remember the little things. I don’t remember which “influencer” (or at that time, just a popular social media figure) had described how she liked to write down something she’s thankful for each morning to set the tone for the day. I felt like everything was changing so quickly in my life, and I didn’t want to look back and forget even the seemingly insignificant moments. Also, as an Enneagram 6, I sometimes will focus on the negative or stress in my life and turn to complaining.
So I went to Barnes and Noble and browsed the blank journal section until I spotted The One – a metallic purple, damask-front beauty with vintage colored and lined pages. I wrote my name and the date in the front cover and placed it on my nightstand. I decided to jot down at least one grateful moment at the end of each day as a way to decompress and reflect. This nightly ritual of writing in my gratitude journal quickly became one of my favorite things. As it goes with adulting, there were days or even weeks when I wouldn’t write anything down. And then I would remember the practice, start it up again, and realize just how much of a positive impact it has on my daily life.
I still have my old faithful gratitude journal with the purple cover. Now it sits on my fireplace mantle so little hands don’t scribble in it and ruin my perfectly aligned margins and color-coded pen pattern. Life with young children can make days seem like a blur that muddles your mind. My gratitude journal is one way to help me process it all. To detox after what felt like such a long day but now seems like I was completely incomplete or inadequate. Some days I have to sit for quite a while and really think hard about something good from that day that I want to write down. Some days it’s really hard to pick just a couple lines of memories that I want to instill forever in those pages because every minute seemed like such a treasure.
One of my favorite things to do every whipstitch is to flip back through the years of gratefulness and mull over those tiny memories. When I think back to elementary, middle, or high school a lot of memories that stick with me are negative ones; but as I read the entry for December 15th, 2016 I don’t remember what was probably the stress of the impending holidays or grading a failing student’s final as I burned the midnight oil. I see “I am grateful for my job… not just income but students, their families, gifts from others, and stability!”
If you don’t, I highly encourage you to begin the practice of writing in a daily gratitude journal. It just takes a few seconds but can serve a substantial purpose. I read back an entry and smile fondly about a memory with a loved one who’s now passed away. I read a few pages and see just how much growth I’ve made or areas in which I haven’t changed a bit. It elicits such a strong, positive emotional response. It’s ingrained in my mind now to look for instances to be thankful for, even in the midst of life that can feel like a burden or struggle. On a family vacation that just doesn’t feel like the getaway to relax I wanted? Gratitude journal. Sick family members? Gratitude journal. Toddler tantrums that seem to last from dawn until dusk? Gratitude journal. World in turmoil? Gratitude journal. In a rut and not feeling connected to my spouse? Gratitude journal. Day that seems totally mundane and irrelevant? Gratitude journal.
My worrying, fearful, inferior, disparaging self needs my gratitude journal. I am so thankful for Old Faithful and the significance it holds. So head to your local book store or Amazon app and pick you up the perfect blank canvas of thanksgivings. You won’t regret it.