Day Three: Need a little help with your gratitude journal?

Leading up to Thanksgiving, each day I will blog about what I’m doing to be more grateful. I invite you to join me, and to share your thoughts, observations, suggestions and ideas.

Day Three: Getting started with your gratitude journal

Maybe you’ve jumped right in to keeping a gratitude journal. With a song in your heart and a spring in your step, you’re busy recording all the reasons you have to be grateful.

Or perhaps, you’re more like Quinn McDonald. Quinn wrote on her blog in April 2008:

The first time someone suggested I keep a gratitude journal, I suggested they set their hair on fire. I was a little cranky at the time. I didn’t want to be grateful, I wanted to seethe and be angry. Once I got finished with anger, I wasn’t sure why I should be grateful. And that’s the point.

Her honest, snarky, skeptical post goes on to describe how she gave it a try only to prove how dumb the idea was — and was surprised to find keeping a gratitude journal helped change her attitude. Now as a creativity coach, she even encourages her clients to keep gratitude journals.

Quinn offers pointers on starting a gratitude journal on her blog — click here to check them out. Her suggestions might help you if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with where to start, or if you, like Quinn, have some skepticism about the whole thing.

She suggests, for example, that you leave the first page blank to avoid the pressure to make those first few entries perfect and that you choose a small enough notebook so you can keep it with you and record even the smallest thing at the moment when it happens.

If you’ve got your journal in front of you but with pen hovering over paper, you still aren’t sure what to write, here’s a pointer from a USA Today article, quoting Robert Emmons:

• Make a list of people or circumstances in your life that you take for granted — and then consider what your life would be like without them (what researcher Robert Emmons calls “the George Bailey effect,” referring to the character whose absence ruins a whole town in the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life).

Here are a few more articles on starting a gratitude journal, in case they help get you going:

And a video of Sarah Ban Breathnach, who you might have seen talking to Oprah about gratitude journals.

Have you started a gratitude journal? Do you like the idea or does it make you want to set your hair on fire?

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4 replies

  1. whoah this blog is magnificent i love studying your articles.
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  2. John–I love writing in the journal before bed. Bet it helps you sleep better, too! I also love the record function on the phone–I have one on my iPhone and it works perfectly. I do have to make myself transfer it to the book, and that takes effort–and care. I find myself “editing” too much sometimes. Gratitude journals are something I’m grateful about!

  3. I taped a piece of paper up in my bedroom closet door and bought one of those classic black & white composition books, kept on my night-stand. At beddy-bye time I reflect on the day and jot down the things I was grateful for. Specific things that happened that day. I’m also carrying (as always) a little notebook with me. Most cell phones have a record function (you just have to FIND it), so if something pops into your head anywhere/anytime, you can use that, too, so as not to forget it.

  4. I’m really grateful for music today. I was getting bogged down, and finally had the opportunity to go to my office to actually get some work done. While there I played the new Transatlantic album, and felt a whole lot better.

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