Journaling: An Exercise In Gratitude

On June 21 of this year, I must have read an article or saw a comment on social media, maybe a friend said something about my self-deprecating demeanor that made something click, but on that day, I began a gratitude journal.

I dug out an old, yet pretty, flowered journal that I’d bought years ago. A few random notes lay inside, but the rest of the pages were pathetically bare. It had three sections to it; three areas of potential self-reflection lay in wait.

Expressing My Gratitude

The first section I set aside for being grateful. I tasked myself with coming up with at least three things in which to be grateful for on that day. Even on the most horrific of days, there should be, at minimum, three things to be grateful for. This was not going to be a journal where I bitched about my day or rattled off the boring details of my daily life, or lamenting the things I didn’t have. No, this journal was to force my brain to see the blessings I already had.

To be honest, I didn’t hold much stock that the idea would last. I tend to go full force on something new for a few weeks, and then it sort of fizzles out, or I lose the drive to keep going. Journaling has never been my ‘thing’ as I always found it to be a waste of my time. This journal, however, has stuck around for a few months. A record for me. I do it at night, just before bed.

Our journals
Our journals

My 10-year-old daughter has taken to joining me in this process. I can’t seem to convince my son that a gratitude journal is worthy of his time, but maybe someday. In the meantime, it is so wonderful to watch my daughter writing down her items before bed, scribbling madly while trying to remember all of the wonderful things that happened to her that day. I hope she never loses that sense of joy and gratitude about her life.

Cataloging My Goals

The second section is for listing the things I did each day for my business. Did I get in 1000 words? Did I get any edits done? Post to social media? Write a blog? Make swag? Interact with a reader? What things did I do to help me further my career? I do this, not to brag or show off since the only person who sees this list is me. I write these things down so I can’t be so hard on myself. I can’t say I’m not trying. I can look back and literally see all the things I’ve accomplished while reaching for my goals. The entries hold me accountable; keep nudging me to work on my business.

Dreaming About My Future

The last pages are reserved for my hopes and dreams. What are the big goals I have for myself? What are the things I might not even dare wish for out loud? These goals can be career based or personal. They are a place to start visualizing what I want to achieve in life. The journal has helped keep myself in check. It lifts me up and reaffirms that I am not a failure. I’m going after my dream, entry after entry, and for that, I am truly grateful.

(This article originally appeared September 19, 2016, on Venus Scribe.)

Danielle Bannister, Author and Gratitude Observer


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