When we focus our mind on what we notice and appreciate, we’re inviting the Universe to join in to create more of the same. Capturing your blessings in a gratitude journal is a practice that will evolve into exactly what you need.
It can also change your life.
My second marriage ended abruptly 15 years ago with an emergency 911 call. He was in jail for 4 days, and afterward, I was somewhat protected by an 18-month restraining order.
My life was in chaos. The next 2 years were spent laying really low and trying to function normally. Even though I went to work every day as usual, did the normal things like grocery shopping and laundry, my system was set permanently on red alert.
I focused on recovery. It took nearly 10 years before I felt truly safe, and even now I live in a different part of the country.
Why a gratitude journal?
Raising our spirits and lightening our mood takes an intentional effort, and recording things we’re grateful for offers a way to center and reflect. It helps keep a positive outlook and provides reminders when positive feelings are hard to find.
My gratitude journal helped shift my mindset from victim to creator. Every evening just before sleep, I reflected on the events from my day and recorded in a small notebook by my bedside at least 3 things that blessed me that day, often more.
As I wrote, I felt again the joy of that moment. Perhaps it was watching a brilliant red cardinal at the bird feeder or the giggle of a toddler petting a puppy. Blessings are everywhere!
This is still my nightly practice and I have quite a stack of those journals now. It is a joy to grab one and relive those moments. Feeling gratitude lifts our mood and signals to the Universe a willingness to appreciate abundance.
Everyone has a different approach to a gratitude journal. One might use morning time to reflect on what’s right in their world, another may jot down a happy thought whenever it comes to mind.
Simply create a special place to regularly put those thoughts and feel the joy. Make it a habit to visit often.
A really fun thing to do is to capture random moments of blessings on slips of paper and toss them into a jar. Feeling down or a little hopeless? Pull a slip of paper and relive that happy moment. It feels really good!
To get the most out of this practice, here are a few tips:
1. Use present tense.
Date the entry and start with “Today I am grateful for…” This keeps you grounded in time and focused on the impact, not just recording what happened. Remember, this is not a list of accomplishments but rather a chance to capture the feelings those accomplishments produced.
2. Stay focused on the positive.
Using the word “not” is counterproductive. If you say, “Today I’m grateful my car did not stall,” you are automatically drawn to the “not” instead of what’s right. Instead, try “Today I’m grateful for my reliable car.” A positive spin supports a positive perspective.
3. Be very specific.
Build the feeling by describing that joyful moment as you recall those experiences. For example, “Today I’m grateful for the owl I heard outside” might instead say, “Today I’m grateful for the owl that called from the tree out front. It reminded me that I am supported by nature—plus it freaked out the cats and made me laugh!”
4. Keep it simple.
If it feels good, write it down. Gratitude for significant events is certainly worth recording, but it shows up in small things as well. “Today, I’m grateful for the beautiful sunset glowing orange and blue on my walk home” is a lovely reflection that captures a specific moment.
Remember, it’s OK to start small and build up. It’s OK to skip days. It’s OK to write dumb stuff. Please let go of useless rules and focus on what feels good. The good feeling is the point!
Gratitude journals are a terrific way to say, “Hey Universe! More of that, please!”