Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive. This life is full of heartbreak and troubles. Something that has helped our family lately? A gratitude journal. Also known as a thankfulness journal. I got the idea from a good friend who has gone through a lot. She mentioned that this simple act of writing down five things a day that she is thankful for has helped her realize how much good there is in her life.
Starting a thankfulness journal is a step towards a change in perspective. It helps you focus on the good.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – Mary Engelbreit
Being thankful, being grateful, about the things in your life …these small things can help cultivate a happy heart. Happiness is a choice, and the more you work on cultivating it, the more it permeates your life.
When I started my gratitude and thankfulness journal, my son, Toby, was really interested — and wanted his own thankfulness journal too. So I found another notebook lying around the house and gave it to him. He was thrilled.
Since Toby is just learning to read and write, his thankfulness journal looks a little different than mine. I usually write the date for him (he’s started tracing it after I write it), and then he draws a picture on that page. After that, we talk about his drawing, and depending on the complexity of the subject, I’ll write some notes about (porcupine and and obstacle course) it or have Toby write the words (i.e. race car, or airplane). For him, it’s more of a focusing tool, a way to spend time drawing each day and thinking about what he is doing rather than just scribbling out a tornado (like he does sometimes with his school journal).
My thankfulness journal is just words. I end up using about a third of one page daily, by the time I write all five things I’m grateful and thankful for. every item on my list is numbered, one through five, each day. And I always start with “I am thankful” or “I am grateful” …just the simple act of writing those words hammers home what I am deciding to be happy about.
The most consistent time for me to do my journal is right before bed, when the house is quiet and I have time to reflect on the day. It helps me to find good, to see how I am blessed — even when I have a rough day. Even if I can’t come up with something entirely original, I’ve never skimped on my daily list.
What have I listed?
It varies depending on the day.
Some days I’ve been thankful for the fact both boys took a nap, or that I got to take a nap myself. Other days I’ve been grateful for miracles, both big and small. Like a relative’s recovery from surgery complications, or that my son inexplicably found a precious earring that I had lost half a year earlier. I’ve focused on finding reasons to be thankful about my life — my husband, my boys, my pets, my home.
There is so much in my life that I have — and all too often, I take it for granted.
This thankfulness and gratitude journal has been a way for me to change that. The best part of this method of journaling? It’s brief, succinct. Anyone can find five minutes a day to write down five quick items. Because in all honesty, it doesn’t take much longer than that.
And one thing I like about this journaling concept? It focuses on the positive. The only journals I previously knew about were ones where you chronicled daily life. And what tends to come to the forefront? The negative. I don’t want to focus my life on the negative. I don’t want to leave a written legacy that focuses on things in life that drag me down. I want to focus on the positive. I want my written legacy to be inspiring and motivating.
And that’s why I keep this journal. Because my days seem to go better when I make time for it.
Do you journal? What do you write about? Would you consider starting a thankfulness journal? Would your kids do this with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.