HEALTH & WELLNESS Mind & Health recent-post2  >  Keep a Gratitude Journal

Keep a Gratitude Journal

The Gratitude Journal, gratitude in middle age, thankfulness
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With all the chaos in politics, the financial sector, and the environment, it makes sense that we spend too much of our own time feeling like we’re barely staying afloat.  Unfortunately, these events ripple back into our personal lives, affecting our families, our income, and, most importantly, our psyches.  It can feel overwhelming, and leave us feeling helpless.

The best counter to feelings that can drag you down and start you spiraling is to step back, take a breath, and look at how the small, daily joys add up to a good life.  Yes, there will still be days where you worry about bills and illness and other people’s strategies causing you difficulties.  But gaining perspective and taking joy in the myriad of good things that happen to you in a single day make a huge difference.

In November of 2011, Harvard Health Publications ran an article “In Praise of Gratitude” that opens with the line, “Expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better.”  In fact, Dr. Robert Emmons of UC-Davis is one of the pioneers of “The Science of Gratitude.”  Deepak Chopra even talks about the use — and misuse of gratitude.

As a writer, I make sense of the world through words. I started by speaking the daily list, but I found it more effective to write it down.

Keep it in a Beautiful Book.  You can, of course, keep it in anything, from a spiral bound dime notebook to the “notes” section on your smartphone. But getting a blank book with a pretty cover and using a pen with smooth-flowing ink makes it a sensually-pleasing experience.

Date each entry.  You can choose to never look back, but chances are, at some turning point in your life, you will want to page back through the entries.  Dating the entry will help give it context.

Do it at the same time every day.  I like to make my entry after my evening meditation, but before bedtime.  I sleep better when I hit the bed thankfully.

Take a deep breath and think about your day.  Don’t obsess on any detail.  Just start at the beginning of the day, and run through as many events as you can.  As you find something that was positive, jot it down.

Nothing is too small.  A smile on the subway or a stranger holding the door open with a smile counts.

Some items repeat.  There are people and events that happen daily for which to give thanks. Maybe it’s home or family or friends or pets or your job or your yoga practice.  As you jot them down, you see patterns.  Reinforce positive patterns.

Consider paying it forward.  Give thanks for the moments where someone showed you kindness.  What can you do tomorrow to improve a stranger’s day?


“In Praise of Gratitude”, Harvard Health Publications, Nov. 2011:

Spiritual Practices:  Gratitude

“The New Science of Gratitude”.  Robert Emmons.

“The Use and Misuse of Gratitude”.  Deepak Chopra, March 18, 2012:




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