How To... · Mental Health

How to Make Your Own Gratitude Journal

I journal and jot things down all the time.  I have multiple notebooks all over the place.   There is a reason for this.   Yes, Staples and OfficeMax are my playgrounds.  (I just love school supplies.)  Also, I need to get my words, thoughts and prayers, even, out on paper.  It is the only way sometimes that I am able to let go of things, work through them, be grateful and pray.

Today though, i want to talk about my gratitude journal.  Now, I only started to keep a separate one this year.  Prior to that I would just write some things I was grateful for at the end or in the beginning of my journal entries during the nights I chose to reflect.  I like the idea of having a separate book for gratitude lists or journaling because you can go straight to that book on the days that are rough and look back to realize that things are not so bad.  It is a revelation of what you have, or what you have experienced.  It is motivation toward possibly experiencing it again.  Along with these thoughts comes more compassion for one’s self, others and possibly some peace of mind.  A quiet prayer or meditation can be said over these words as you read them, touch them.  After all, what is written down is more permanent than the nasty thoughts you may be thinking on that rough day.

What do I write in my gratitude list or journal?

You can write just about anything.  It is for your eyes only.  I do have some guidelines and suggestions.

Some days are hard and you have to choose small things, like the experience of your senses (taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing.).

It can be material things, too, but I try to stay away from that because the practice can end up becoming w0rship of boats, houses, cart, clothes, etc.  When I do write down material things there is a emotional or functional reason for it.  I am grateful for my car because it got me home safely in a snowstorm when I was anxious and skidding all over the road.  I am thankful for my Mom’s cooking or help because connecting and sharing a strong, unconditional bond with family is important to me.   I am grateful for my phone because I can get up on time for work (usually), call friends and again build powerful connections.

The best things to write down are those positive events, personal interactions or emotions you have felt that day.  Those things that can for some of us go badly…this is the time to pat yourself on the back for doing it effectively.  For instance, being present for someone in need, spending time with family, being proud of how you handled a tough situation at work or with family, etc.  There are days I write “happy,” or “content,” or I write a place or person’s name.  If there is something or someone that you want to bear positive witness to write it down!  You never know what might be useful to you when you are feeling down some day.  Write something funny to make yourself laugh in the future.

Basically, it is your book and it is up to you to determine what you are grateful for. In fact, you can totally ignore what I just wrote about and make up your own rules.  My hope is that you are able to explore and better understand your emotions through this type of journaling.  I also hope it helps as a gateway toward increased prayer, meditation and relaxation.   Use as a tool both, in the day and for the future (that is, don’t forget to go back and read it when you are feeling down).    Happy journaling!

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