I’d been hearing various bloggers and YouTubers talking about gratitude journals for a while before I felt inspired to start my own. I’m not sure what changed – I just began really noticing all the lovely things people do for me and all the beautiful things in my life. And the idea of taking some time each day to reflect on those things – and write them down so I won’t forget them – became really appealing.
How I got started
I began by buying a notepad (it has a plain black cover which I was planning to decorate, but I haven’t got round to it yet!) and started journalling almost every day. Most mornings, I do it after breakfast and write down everything I’m grateful for from the day before. It’s a very positive, uplifting way to start the day.
At first, I wasn’t sure what format to use. In the end, I settled on writing, “Today, I am so grateful for…”, followed by a series of bullet points. I aim to come up with at least five things every day. Some days, it’s easy and the words just come to me, flowing onto the page. Others, it’s harder – but there are always things to write.
I’ve been journalling for about four months now. I remember in the beginning thinking I had to come up with completely different things every day. But I soon realised that was pretty silly – if anything, it’s a good thing to keep being grateful for the same things day after day. So now, if I wake up and the sun is shining, I’ll write that down. If it’s sunny all week, I’ll keep writing it every day. Likewise, whenever I get more freelance work, I express gratitude for it.
I’ve realised it doesn’t matter how big or small something is – if I’m grateful for it, it’s worth making a note of. For example, food is a huge part of my life and it makes me very happy! So I’ll often write down something nice I ate the day before. Nothing is too trivial – I’ve given my gratitude for things like finding a massive pot of cheap peanut butter, my mum sending me a cute picture of her pet bunny, and making pizza for dinner!
A change in mindset
I can tell that stopping to give thanks for these things has helped to shift my mindset, because I’ve found myself really appreciating things I used to take for granted. When I turn on a tap, I think about how lucky I am to have an unlimited supply of clean water. And as a result, I feel a responsibility not to waste water, because so many people in the world don’t have that privilege. After I eat, I think about how amazing it is to be able to feel full and satisfied three times a day, every day. It’s sobering to remember how many people are chronically hungry.
Sometimes, I also express gratitude for things which seem negative on the surface. When I cracked the corner of my laptop screen, I was grateful that the laptop was still usable. And when an article I pitched was rejected, I was grateful for the learning experience.
Our mental health can be very dependent on how we perceive and react to the events in our lives, so looking for the silver linings is really important.
Being grateful for things attracts more of the same
If you’ve come across the Law of Attraction, you’re probably familiar with the idea that practising gratitude for what you have brings more good things your way. I’m definitely finding this to be true. When started journalling, I was in quite a confused, anxious place. Things have taken a definite turn for the better since then, and right now, I may just be the happiest and most fulfilled I’ve ever been.
Compared to many of the people around me, I earn very little, and materially I may have less than they do. But there are so many amazing things which make life beautiful to me – being able to work from home on my schedule, spending my days with those I love, and feeling like I have a purpose in life, for example. There are so many things to do which bring me joy, and so many things to look forward to.
I thought I’d finish by listing a few of the things I’ve written in my gratitude journal over the past few months, just to give some examples:
- Eating lunch in the park
- Planning trips to Wales
- Shared meals and deep conversations
- Friends who listen to my ramblings
- Bike rides on beautiful days
- Learning new skills
- Laughing so much I can’t breathe
- Raw brownies
- 3 AM feasts
- Being inspired to create art
- Getting up early and being productive
- Clients being happy with my work
- Snuggling up inside on rainy days
- LOVE <3
it was so hard to pick those out! Looking through my gratitude journal makes me so happy and it’s really nice to remember each day and all the good things that happened.
If any of you keep gratitude journals, I’d love to know how you go about it and what kinds of things you’re grateful for. Feel free to let me know in the comments!