It sounds kind of hokey, but I’ve had it suggested recently that I start a gratitude journal. And I ask what it is and why I should do so. I actually really like the idea, and as it turns out, I remembered hearing a similar notion on the radio almost a year ago from some guest on the morning show I like.
With a gratitude journal, you’re supposed to write down at least 3 things from your day that you are grateful for or which make you happy. You’re not supposed to repeat anything in the span of a week, you have to try to come up with different things each day.
At first it can be kind of hard to come up with three things. You sit there and think about your day and think of all the bad things. But that’s the point– you’re shoving aside the bad to make room in your thoughts for good things, happy things. Over time, it gets easier to find the good things and write them down.
Our thoughts are powerful. Our lives are pretty much defined by our thoughts. Think about it–you go through your day essentially with a running commentary in your head. You can’t escape it. What’s it saying to you? Is that inner voice saying that you’re an idiot, that your day is ruined because of the moron driver who cut you off, that you screwed up so bad at work that you’re sure to get fired, etc etc? How would that make you feel?
We all do this. You are your harshest critic. You say things to yourself you would likely never say to another person. But thoughts become things, and can shape your life in ways you may not want. If you keep concentrating and worrying about bills and how you’re ever going to pay them, you’re only drawing that negative energy to you and helping to make it worse.
A gratitude journal helps change that. It helps you to find the good things in your life. It helps identify things that make you happy, and then it starts to become easier to find ways to enjoy your day and enjoy the good things instead of worrying so much about the bad. The more you invest in positives, the less room there is for negatives. Choosing to emphasize the good thoughts and the good events in your life can improve your overall outlook on your day. Ever had one of those days where you were just happy to be alive? Happy to be out and about and seeing things? Those days don’t come around very often, but what if they did? What if you could practice on making yourself happier by seeing the good things you have in your life and then make those happy days come by more often?
If “gratitude” doesn’t work for you, then phrase it as something else. I like “Happiness Journal,” personally, as then I can write down things that made me happy that day as well as things I’m grateful for. But you can call it whatever you like. It is yours to direct, if you want to.