Why Start A Gratitude Journal

It’s that mystical week in-between the holiday season and New Year’s. Typically, I spend this sleepy time outlining my goals for the next year. This year though, I have something new to do. This year, I’m reading through my gratitude journal. And while I’m not yet done, I’m already in awe. If you need a new or simply an additional reason, motivation, or justification to start a daily gratitude journal, I hope this is it.

Some background….a dear friend gave me this beautiful weekly planner that I LOVE! I’m not a paper person though. All my calendaring is done via phone and computer, so for a few days, I didn’t know what to do with it. But then a perfect use came to mind – it would become my gratitude journal. Oprah does it. Arianna Huffington recommends it. It sounded like something worth trying.

Gratitude journaling is the simple exercise of jotting down a few (2-4) daily events that you are grateful for having happened – things like a good night’s sleep, a call from a friend, pretty weather, etc. The exercise is intended to help you focus on the good. It’s meant to help you realize that there is always something positive, pretty or helpful in your day that you enjoyed or witnesses. As the saying goes, the more grateful you are for the things you have, the more things you will have to be grateful for. Oprah’s own testimonial is “I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because — for sure — what you focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness in life, you create more of it.”

Having just completed my first year-in-the-making gratitude journal, I’m amazed by its reflective genius. It’s not because of my prose, or because any one day was especially impactful, it’s because of the collection as a whole. A gratitude journal is truly a gift, an incredible souvenir of love that you give to yourself. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Because as much as a gratitude journal helps you find perspective and pleasantries in your daily routines, looking back at the yearly compilation of your personal happy memories helps put not just your day into perspective, it puts your life in perspective.

With year-end reflection, it’s all too commonplace for us to look back with regret, disappointment, and demotivation because some or all of our goals weren’t successfully accomplished. Yet still, setting goals is important because it indicates our intention to grow and evolve. And so when we are reflecting on our goals, and we can read each gratitude journal entry for the year, it helps put all that happened (or didn’t happen) into perspective. We may not have achieved our goals, but we were present, aware, and grateful. It’s far easier to be excited about creating new goals when we are able to sit in the joy of reading, feeling, and re-living some of the wonderful things that happened to us each and every day.

Sure, with daily journaling there may be days that we have to go back and fill in missing entries. There may be days that journaling makes us feel more grumpy than grateful because it is a daily commitment, which can feel like the daily grind. But it’s a gift we give ourselves, not just to frame the day, while that’s incredibly powerful. It’s an incomparable gift because at the end of the year or 12 month cycle, we have in our possession, in our own words, in our own writing, the most effective motivational tool to inspire us on the journey. At the end of a year of gratitude journaling, we have a personalized, persuasive, one-of-a-kind creation that captures our history, and yet expands our horizons.