The Secret Behind Gratitude Journals

The Secret Behind Gratitude Journals

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that keeping a daily gratitude journal was a good thing I’d probably have a hefty sum of money right now.

The question is, since I’ve heard of the benefits it brings countless of times, do I actually have a gratitude journal?

Started one, yes. Kept it up? Nope.

But listen, guys. I think I’ve finally figured out the secret sauce behind these gratitude journals. And I’m not talking about the basic idea that being grateful in general is a good thing.

I mean it finally clicked in my head how and why they work. Call me slow or even call me silly but coming to this realization has got me feeling all kinds of hoity-toity. Like all this time gratitude journals have been teasing me going “neener neener neener we know something you don’t know” and I finally pinned them down.

This is a good thing for me because I’m all for trying things that would make my life better. But keeping a gratitude journal has always been hard for me (much like exercising but that’s a different post for a different day). Every night when I’d write in my gratitude journal, I’d end up with the same things.

I’m grateful for my family.

I’m grateful for my health.

I’m grateful for my job.

Night in, night out, this is what I was grateful for and it was getting monotonous and boring. I mean, really now. What good is a daily gratitude journal if you’re grateful for the same things over and over again? Eventually, I stopped taking it seriously, would just phone it in most nights until finally I’d give up.

That’s where my problem was. Not taking it seriously.

If people who started daily gratitude journals took it seriously, they would really push themselves to think outside the proverbial box. What are some of the littlest things to be grateful for? For example, I’m grateful that my 14-year old has the motivation to learn how to do his own laundry. Or I’m grateful that I’m able to drive in to the office everyday and not be prisoner to the Bay Area Rapid Transit. Or I’m grateful that our dishwasher works because when it was broken it took me a lifetime to wash every single fork, spoon and dish until each one was squeaky clean.

The effect of challenging yourself to come up with a wider variety of things to be thankful for is that during the day, you would be more mindful of looking for things that you could add to your list in the evening. You’d start noticing the positive in everything you encounter, at least as much as you could, just so you could have some entries in your gratitude journal later that evening.

The effect of noticing the positive in everything you encounter is that you’d think of the negative less and less. Something really crappy may happen like a day of back-to-back meetings where lunch hour isn’t even spared. After you give yourself a minute to bitch and moan about it (because let’s be real, we’re not going to be happy-happy-joy-joy all the time), you’d be grateful for the fact that people find value in your presence in meetings.

The effect of thinking of the negative less and less is that you begin to naturally see the good in all situations. It becomes easier for you to become a positive person and open yourself up to or even just recognize the abundance of good things that the universe sends your way.

Are you guys getting where I’m going here?

The secret sauce to having a gratitude journal is that it makes you a more positive person and in this positivity you’ll find a happier life.

Cheers to that. *chink, chink*

So if you don’t already have a gratitude journal, why don’t you try it, even just for the next few weeks. But please don’t be like me the first time I tried it. Take it seriously. Then come back here and tell me if I have it all wrong. Or, even better, come back here and tell me all the good things that have come your way since you started.

I’m re-starting mine tonight.


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I’m a happiness-seeker and a self-improvement junkie who admits to sometimes indulging in a bit of navel-gazing but also engages in behavior motivated purely by altruism. Follow along with me and together we’ll find your path to happy one smile at a time.

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