It is easy to find a lot of support for the practice of keeping a gratitude journal. One such very comprehensive article in favor of the practice points out the following, among other compelling insights:
By noting what you are grateful for, you can gain clarity on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can do without.
That statement is timely, as we prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, perhaps the most popular time of the year to pause and recognize just how much we have.
I think a gratitude journal is a great idea and I’ve suggested it to several people, including my children. Unfortunately for me, forced writing is not sustainable (see: multiple attempts at consistently populating a food log). It’s really too bad, because I would love to be able to look back on a documented history of positive moments. Cloaked in disappointed self-awareness, I decided to devise another approach:
In bed before sleep each night, I offer a thanksgiving prayer to God by reflecting on my day and highlighting 3 things for which I’m grateful. I do not rank them; I simply mention in my mind 3 things that stand out to me. The entire process/prayer takes less than a minute and I’m generally off to sleep minutes later. To illustrate, here are examples from the past few days:
On Friday, which is supposed to be my dedicated, coveted Kidden Prep day, I instead spent most of the morning running around taking care of my younger daughter’s doctor appointment, returning her to school and volunteering for an hour shelving books in the school library, then picking up her medication from the pharmacy and bringing it back to school. These were my 3 thank yous to God for the day:
- Keeping my immediate and extended family free from harm and major illness.
- Productivity: I thrive on accomplishment. Even though my work day didn’t start until the afternoon, I was still able to complete quite a few work and personal tasks.
- The grilled tuna and swiss panini from Wegmans that I had for lunch. This delicious comfort food warmed my heart and stomach.
Saturday marked several days in a row of not feeling great, but I still pushed myself to get up early to run a few miles then walk 20 minutes more before heading out for an early coaching appointment. I then endured a 4-hour shopping/errand marathon with my older daughter. “Endured” is the label I assign because I’ve never been a fan of extended shopping or errands. After that was finished, even though my sinuses and lungs were struggling a bit, I remained comfortable enough to dive into some early Christmas decorating to take the pressure off when we return from Thanksgiving travel. I was on my feet or in the car nearly the entire day, and went to bed with my body very much ready for rest. While my body rested and before I fell asleep, I told God I was grateful for these things:
- My coaching client.
- Having a family for whom I needed to spend hours shopping for Christmas gifts.
- My general health and stamina that allowed me to function effectively and relatively comfortably despite the presence of several lingering cold symptoms.
Keep a gratitude journal or not – but make it a practice no matter what. You and your life will be better for it.