Why I Tried A Gratitude Journal And Why I Keep Doing It

Photo credit: Matthew Henry

#thankful #grateful #blessed #blah #blah #blah. That cheesy, pseudoscientific fluff that social media loves these days. That stuff that didn’t do it for me. That stuff that maybe even annoyed me. Until I decided to keep a gratitude journal of my own.

I remember exactly the day I started. My father was ill. He was depressed, we thought. He was on the verge of suicide, we thought. And we were just about to be told he had end stage Alzheimer’s. But all I remember are the long halls of the government hospital that day. The filthy toilets. The agonising wait.

And in that agonising wait, I remembered a friend who started a month of gratitude on Facebook. A friend who now posts ‘gratitudes’ three times a day. Every. Single. Day. If someone I know can post three things she’s grateful for every day of the year, I thought, maybe I can post just one thing a day for just one month. Physically, emotionally exhausted, the last thing I felt like doing was writing about how grateful I felt, but I managed to talk myself into it.

That was several years ago. And now? Now I do it every year. And I look forward to it every time.

Because here’s the thing … you might think you know how grateful you feel, and how lucky you are, but writing it out actually brings it home.

It makes it real. Tangible. And it makes you feel good (or at the very least a little better when things are seriously tough).

And the weird thing is, it’s not just me who looks forward to my annual month of gratitude. It’s become somewhat of an institution for my friends. Somehow it brings them some kind of goodness too. So much so that they actually make sure to remind me that my annual gratitude journal month is coming up. In droves.

It’s not always easy, especially on the dark days, and even though I often say the same things every year … that I’m grateful for our lovely home, for the health of my family, my amazing friends, chocolate … I realised that it’s even more reason to be grateful – that those things still exist in my life.

In some ways that I can understand, and in many more that I will probably never fathom, the ‘cheesy, pseudoscientific fluff’ of the gratitude journal has not just kept me sane, it has changed my life.

Read more about the healing power of gratitude