Start a gratitude journal for Thanksgiving: here’s how

In a Fireside Circle gathering last week, the habit of recording gratitude in journals arose. Writing down things you’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.

What was interesting was how we each had a different approach. One uses morning time to reflect on what’s right in her world, another jots down what comes up whenever she thinks of something.

For myself, in the evening just before sleep, I reflect on my day and record in a small notebook at least 3 things that blessed me, often more.   I have stack of them now and it is a joy to pick up a journal from years ago and relive those moments.

This week of Thanksgiving is the perfect time to begin keeping a gratitude journal. To really get the most out of the process, here are a few tips:

Use the present tense. Start with “Today I am grateful for…” and date your entries including the year.  This keeps you grounded in time and focused on the impact of events, not just recording them. Remember, this is not a list of accomplishments but rather a chance to record positive happenings that were meaningful in some way.

Stay focused on what’s right in your world. Using the word “not” is counterproductive. If you say, “Today I’m grateful my car did NOT break down” your focus is automatically drawn to the “not.” Instead, try “Today I’m grateful my reliable car brought me to and from work safely.”   A positive spin supports a positive perspective.

Be very specific. You want to create a positive moment as you recall those experiences; it gives you a way to build the memory. For example, “Today I’m grateful for the owl I heard this evening” can change to “Today I’m grateful for my quiet evening and the owl that called from the tree out front. The bucolic calls were a gentle reminder that I am supported by nature – plus it freaked out the cats and made me laugh!”

Keep it simple. Gratitude for significant events is absolutely 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 way home” is a lovely reflection that captures a specific moment. If you felt good, write it down.

Remember, it’s OK to start small and build up. It’s OK to skip days. It’s OK to feel grumpy and write dumb stuff. It’s all OK.  Focus on what feels good as often as you can.  A gratitude journal is a practice and will evolve into exactly what you need.

Already have a gratitude journal or a way to count your blessings? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

2 Replies to "Start a gratitude journal for Thanksgiving: here’s how"

  • Ginger
    November 23, 2016 (12:15 pm)

    This morning as I read this blog entry, I am grateful for the reminder to stay positive, to record regularly, and to keep it real.
    Mostly, though, I’m grateful for the model presented to me by someone who risks bigtime,and rallies from the rocky times.

    • Debra
      November 23, 2016 (7:20 pm)

      So happy this made a difference to you, Ginger. You, of all people, are a role model to me to keep it real! I’m grateful to have people like you in my life.

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