The Thing About Gratitude…

Jul 25, 2012 by

The Thing About Gratitude…

I’m pretty much a creature of habit. I have three breakfasts that I rotate — half a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon; scrambled eggs and bacon pieces; and raspberry PopTarts (don’t tell my husband). I watch the same tv shows every week. Routine makes me happy. If I bring change into my life, it has to be done in little unintimidating ways. And heaven only knows that I am the VERY last person in the world who should ever hold themselves out as a motivational speaker, since I’m largely of the mindset to let people be themselves and figure things out on their own.

Still, even with all that, probably the biggest (small) step I have taken in the past couple years that has brought about the most positive change in how I look at things is to start a gratitude journal. I know, I know – it sounds hopelessly Oprah. And while I honestly can’t remember where I got the big idea to start this, I’d probably be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the possibility that it came from one of her multitude of media outlets. But here’s the thing: it makes you feel better. And I cannot think of any better way to really begin to see all the extraordinary in the ordinary of our lives.

So what is a gratitude journal? It can be different things to different people. Some people may only write a sentence about what they’re grateful for. Some may make a list of 5 things, some may make a list of 10. Some may write at length. That’s the beauty of the “journal” part of it. No one is reading it but you; you are the only audience. For me, I signed on to a website called Happy Rambles. This is a free website where you sign up for an account. Then they send you an automated email every night that asks what you’re grateful for. You reply to the email, and your response goes into your account’s journal. For me, I will forget to think a minute about what I’m grateful for if I don’t get a reminder, so that nightly email is a godsend for me. Other people are far more disciplined than I, and may not need the nudge. But consistency is important, so do whatever works, whether it’s a smartphone app or an actual paper journal.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with something to be grateful for. Some days, my entry is “I’m grateful I didn’t kill my boss/children/other individual stepping on my last nerve.” Some days, I’m grateful merely to have made it through to the end of the day. But more often than not, and the longer I have stayed with journaling about gratitude, I’m finding that not only am I grateful for more, I feel blessed. The enormity of the blessings in my life can literally overwhelm me. And that is truly extraordinary.

This post is a little hard for me to write because it’s so personal. I’m far more comfortable posting links to things I find funny than writing about what affects me personally. But I have a novel (!) coming out in just over a month, which while it is entirely a work of fiction (not thinly veiled autobiography!), is still very personal to me. So if I get a little personal now and then, please bear with me. I take comfort in the fact that right now, I labor in relative anonymity and only a handful of people will read this. BUT, if you are one of the handful, write in the comments: What are you grateful for? And if you keep a gratitude journal, how do you keep it?

Thanks for reading.