Why you should keep a gratitude journal

Life can suck and I am not one to dismiss the negative feelings I have from day to day. Being perpetually optimistic and happy is unrealistic to me. Tune into current events and you will see how much work we, as a society, have ahead of us. It can be a real bummer. I believe in venting about the bad in our lives, not necessarily in public for all to see (unless you want to) but in a way that helps you get it off your chest. That being said, I also believe that “there’s something good in everyday”. Everyday we have something to be thankful for, something that we can look to and say, “That was nice.” It might be those amazing pancakes you made for breakfast and didn’t burn, the unexpected but welcome phone call from a friend, a polite smile and compliment from a stranger, or even the mere fact that you got half of one task complete for the day. Whatever it is, this little something should be acknowledged and recorded.

Negative stuff, thoughts, interactions, feelings can take center stage in our consciousness to the point we don’t see all of the stuff that is right in our lives. We tend to block out the mountain of good with a freckle of bad. I know that I am guilty of this. If say, I get feedback from ten different people I will give much more weight (emotionally) to the one negative response. I try not to do this but it’s difficult not to dwell on that one person. Similarly, whenever I’ve had a bad anxiety day I feel negative inside and look at all things through this darkened lens.

By taking the time to process our day in a manner that looks for something good we will be inclined to find it. It gives us a different way in which to frame our day. Small pleasures, and seemingly inconsequential happenings take on new life when we view them through the lens of gratitude.

A gratitude journal can take many forms. Each entry can be a simple sentence, a short paragraph, a picture or photograph, a quote or even a memento. I’ve even seen it in the form of a large jar into which you drop small scraps of paper on which you write something you’re grateful for and on December 31st you pick them out and read them. It’s a great way to look back on the year. I have a small notebook and I am trying to scribble something in it each night before I go to bed. I find that keeping this journal is even more important to me when I’ve had a crappy day.

Today is Sunday and I am going to share what I am grateful for right here in this blog post. We spent the day at home today. It was raining and it just felt like the sort of day to spend home. Nothing about today sticks out except that we finally purged the outdoor closet. It was such a mess and we had things we didn’t even know we had. I had mentioned to my husband that we really needed to sort that closet out but we just never got around to it. Today we finally did. It was warm and humid out there so it wasn’t comfortable to haul all of that junk into the porch where we sorted through it. The end result is a closet that is now usable and an item checked off my list. Looking at our junk in another way, I am grateful to have accumulated it all with my husband. In the mess I saw remnants of repairs and remodels we’ve done to our house and I know that I am lucky to have a place of our own.

I can’t really commit to a daily journal per se but a gratitude journal is something I believe is good for me and my mental health, and it could be good for you, too.

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