The journal is the writer’s greatest way of self-expression. Whether you keep a tiny moleskine in your pocket, or a glittery pink binder full of your most private thoughts under your bed; for all the imagination and excellence contained in your most intimate pages, there is one thing you’re all missing: gratitude. I was seventeen when a counselor recommended treating my depression by writing down three things every day that I was grateful for. I despised the idea, as most angsty teenagers despise anything an adult ‘suggests’, but ended up trying it one day when I was bored in class. The result was immediate, I couldn’t believe it. My mind filled with happy thoughts and hopes instantaneously, and it lasted for much of the day. Fast forward to now, and I’m redesigning the idea of a gratitude journal to encompass more than just three things.
I’ve gathered a mish-mash of ideas over time and have been steadily implementing them into my own journal everyday. Here’s how:
1. The Daily Full-Page Gratitude
What would make today great?
List three things, each gets it’s own line.
(Ex) If I have fun at school, if I finish up a project, if I feel relaxed instead of stressed all day.
Amazing things that happened today:
Again, three things that each get it’s own line.
(Ex) had an inspiring talk with my boyfriend, made a really tasty lunch, enjoyed some alone time where I got to read my favourite book.
List three things you are grateful for.
(Ex) For discovering my love of Moroccan mint tea, For my lovely cat Binx who is my friend til’ the end, For inspiration that came to me when watching a film today.
This is where you should devote at least two lines to self love. Everyday write something different, to remind yourself how incredible and special you are. It can be in first or third person, whichever you like most!
(Ex) You have so much ahead of you, so soon. See your potential, and let yourself have every little bit of happiness that you deserve.
How I could’ve made today better:
Here is a reflection on the things you did that day that didn’t really work out. Devote a few lines to writing down not necessarily the negatives of your day, but ways you could have gone about them differently.
(Ex) I tried to make French toast for breakfast but turns out I don’t really like it, I argued with someone when I shouldn’t have and it caused me stress, I should have gotten more fresh air and gone for walks today, etc.
You can be as specific and detailed as you want, and that’s often the best part! A gratitude journal is still an exercise in creativity. The first entry is to be written in the morning (as soon as possible), and the rest when your day is coming to a close. You’ll even find that writing your gratitude or amazing things as they happen doesn’t really work out, because more amazing things will top them as the day progresses!
Another exercise in gratitude comes from realizing that everything you do is important and a reflection on who you are. This next list can be done from time to time, as often as you please, to help you realize that even when you think you’re doing nothing, you are always a buzzing beacon of self-expression.
2. The List of Perpetual Indulgence
I am currently…
Description is key here, it’s an exercise in imagination and reality. I use this one mostly for the times when I’m sitting on the couch watching TV, bored out of my mind. I start writing, and all of a sudden I remember that I’m not a couch potato, I’m a person wearing a striped dress and pink slippers daydreaming about the Brooklyn bridge and listening to Matt Damon’s inspirational monologue from We Bought A Zoo. Not so boring and simple now, huh? Even if you may be thinking, feeling, or wanting something negative, getting it all down in this form will help to blow off some steam without ranting about it – that usually just cements the feeling.
DIY gratitude is a gift to yourself, so everyday, don’t forget to keep on giving. Everybody’s self love tank needs a little refilling every now and again.