Gratitude Journaling

Wilson Lam {WLQ} / / CC BY-NC-ND

At Thanksgiving, we are reminded to give thanks for what we have. However the remaining weeks of the year are often a stressful time for people and it’s easy to feel like you are in a slump or down in the dumps. If you are truly depressed, please get professional help. If you are just going through normal ebbs and flows in life and find yourself down in the dumps for more than a couple of weeks, I’d suggest that you try gratitude journaling.

What is a gratitude journal? It’s a notebook, diary or journal where you can jot down thoughts of gratitude each day. When you are feeling great, it is simple to think of things for which you are grateful. However when you are in pain (mentally or physically), worried, angry, or fearful, you don’t naturally think of appreciation or gratitude. Instead, you focus on the negative, and that negativity feeds on itself. That cycle can be hard to break. One way to break it is by forcing yourself to find something to appreciate each day. You can start by writing down all of the things that normally come to mind, such as family, friends, housing, etc. Then you should try to think of something new to add to the list each and every day.

It’s ok to start small. I’ve had someone tell me that all they could identify was that their car did not break down as they drove to work that day. Everything else that happened that day was awful. So if that’s the only thing they could come up with that day, it’s a start. However, I would suggest changing the wording to be more positive. In that example, it would be better to write, “I am grateful my car got me safely to work today.” Focus on making the journal a place for positive, grateful thoughts.

What typically happens after a week or so of gratitude journaling is that you become motivated to find more things you can appreciate, and therefore you start to see things in a different light. You’ll find yourself feeling better and more positive about everything, gradually leaving those dumps behind!

Please be aware, that sometimes you will have a truly awful day. On that day, it may be difficult to come up with anything new to write in your journal. On those days, I suggest you read back through your previous gratitude postings, and you will be amazed how far you have come. You may even be able to identify something new to write for that bad day!

Happy journaling…

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