A More Meaningful Gratitude Journal

I’m sure you have heard of the benefits of keeping a daily gratitude journal. But just in case you are unfamiliar with this practice here are some benefits:

  • Keeps our focus on the good that already surrounds us.
  • Naturally decreases complaining and grumbling.
  • Turns our seeming lack into abundance.
  • Increases positivity that infuses everyday life.
  • Improves sleep

Let me illustrate an example of how this infiltrates into everyday life. When I see that the dishwasher is full of clean dishes to unload or there is laundry to fold, I sometimes notice a grumbling sigh inside of me.  But because of my practice of gratitude I am quickly able to turn my grumbling into gratefulness. Grateful that I have a machine to clean my dishes and clothes for me! I think about women generations ago who scrubbed their clothes against the rocks in the river.  How grateful they would have been for these machines and here I am put out over the five minutes it will take me to unload the dishwasher or put my laundry away.

Sometimes writing in a journal can become stale if you repeat the same vague platitudes. “I’m grateful for my health. I’m grateful I have a house to live in. I’m grateful my children are healthy.”  Of course there are many people who would love to be able to write any of these things down in a gratitude journal. People who do struggle with health or homelessness or whose children have dire health issues. These kinds of rote entries happen when we think about our life as a whole. When we’re doing a gratitude journal, were only contemplating the day that just ended.

One technique I use to make journal writing entries more meaningful is something I call “Two easy and a hard”. By this I mean, that as you ponder over your day (not just your entire life) write down two things that are fairly easy to recall that was a blessing in your day. It can be something as big as a promotion or raise, to something more practical like getting a great parking spot in the rain, or when your child tells you that they love you out of the blue.

So what is the hard one? As you reflect upon you day, think about something difficult that happened in your day, perhaps a struggle or a conflict you experienced. Then ask yourself what was the good that came out of that experience? Did that conflict deepen your relationship with that person? That is something to be grateful for. Did losing your job open up an opportunity to start your own business, even though it’s terrifying? That is definitely journal worthy.  Did you realize that by burning the candles at both ends that you were neglecting taking care of yourself? Awareness can be very powerful. It can propel us into action if that is what is needed. Be grateful for the lesson that came from something painful or frustrating during your day.

And that’s it. Start with 3 entries per day. If you have more, fantastic. Start with 2 easy and 1 hard.  You can do it in the morning but my preference is in the evening while my day if still fresh. I always tell my kids, “If you look for the good, you will find it”

It takes just a few minutes. See what you notice within a week to a month. Happy journaling!