Keeping a Gratitude Journal

“The secret of happiness is to count your blessings
while others are adding up their troubles
 - William Penn

A gratitude journal helps to remind us of things in life that bring us joy. With all the stresses we confront on a regular basis, the more positive aspects of life can often get pushed aside or taken for granted.  A gratitude journal helps bring them to the forefront, keeping them fresh and easily accessible in our minds.

This exercise involves writing down three to five recent events or activities, for which you feel thankful. You can do this exercise daily, weekly or as often as you like. Like most things, the more you repeat it, the stronger the effects. It is helpful to practice it with some regularity, but just remember that it should be a pleasure to do, not a chore! Here are some tips for creating your gratitude journal:

  1. Pick a notebook or notepad to dedicate to this activity.
  2. Find a time when you have a few moments of peace and quiet to reflect upon your blessings. Early in the morning or later in the evening are often ideal times as our mind tends to be more relaxed and have less distractions during these periods.
  3. Write down whatever it is that brought you joy that day. It can be something big, such as a friend visiting from far away, or small, like a flower blooming in your garden or a favorite song playing on the radio. What's important is that the event warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.
  4. Try to include as much detail as you can. By delving a little deeper into the happiness invoked by a specific event or situation, you may discover something profound about yourself. However, follow these directions very lightly, going with what feels right for you. There is no right or wrong way to do it.
  5. Set aside a designated time for the exercise. For example, consider trying it for two weeks or a month. Once that time period is up, consider the effects the exercise has on you.  Are you in a better frame of mind? Do you want to continue it? Do you find yourself focusing more on what brings you joy and less on your troubles? While this exercise won't solve your problems, the hope is that the exercise will make them more manageable for you.
  6. Above all, remember that appreciation should make you feel good.

We hope this exercise will help to reinforce your connection to the more enriching parts of your life!