Last year, I started keeping a gratitude journal. I have to admit that I didn't keep it the entire year, but this year I am more determined than ever to keep it the entire year as a part of my focused January.
If you don't know what a gratitude journal is, it's something that was inspired by Ann Voskamp's book you hear me talk about so much, "One Thousand Gifts". In the book, she makes a list of one thousand things she is thankful for throughout the year, in an effort to find amazing joy in the everyday life. Her attitude towards life and giving thanks in bad situations really inspired me to change the way I live life. So, I decided to start my own list of one thousand things. I call this my gratitude journal and I'm trying to count one thousand blessings in my life through the year, but hey, who's counting?! Here are 5 reasons why keeping a gratitude journal is so important.
It puts things into perspective.
This is my favorite thing about keeping a gratitude journal, and my favorite thing about gratitude in general. When you start to list the blessings in your life, it makes the bad parts seem so small. When I have a crappy day and the world seems to be against me, I sit down at night and write the blessings. I start with the obvious blessings- my parents, my siblings, my husband, my friends, my dog, my car, a roof over my head, food in the fridge, health.
hen I sit back and look. I may not have had a good day but look at what I DO have. I have a family that is alive and well. I'm not homeless like so many in my city. I don't know anything about waiting at a bus stop because I have a car that runs. Once you list the blessings, the problems shrink and your heart swells with joy.
It documents the year.
A gratitude journal is just that- a journal. As you write down the dates and the things that you are grateful for, you look back on a random date and remember, "Wow, I had an awesome conversation with an old friend that day!" or "A stranger smiled at me and it really made my day." You would normally forget those things, but as you look back, you truly remember that every day of this past year was blessed.
It helps you slow down.
Mmm, my favorite. We're in a rush to live. But taking the time each night before bed to pull out the good old-fashioned pen and paper means you have to turn the distractions off and commit this time to REFLECTING. Haven't we lost the art of self-reflection in our generation? We're too worried about how our lives appear on social media to get away from the crowd and the people and the approval. But pulling out the journal, and slowing down before bed, means to reflect on your own life. And to me, that is one of the most beautiful things you can do for yourself.
It's a visual representation of the GOOD in your life.
Each day, you add a few bullets. You start the year with four things you are thankful for that day, and by the end of the year, you have a list that has grown to be pages and pages long. And at the end of the year, you can hold your journal high in the air and say, "LOOK AT HOW BLESSED I AM!" What would be a better feeling than that? To be able to look at the literal pages of your life and smile, knowing what a fantastically blessed 365 days you've had.
It helps you encourage others to be thankful.
I'm warning you-- gratitude, it's addicting. Once you start, it'll be hard to make a habit. But once it's a habit, you won't be able to go a day, an hour, without noticing the blessings and smiling. And I have another warning. Gratitude, it's contagious. People want it. People want to know how to be happy all the time. One of my favorite quotes is:
People will want the attitude you have. And you will be able to take their hand and open their eyes to the blessings in THEIR life. And then, they will show others, and it will become one big happy snowball of thankfulness that can change the world-- or at least, your world.