Here's What I Know After Writing in a Gratitude Journal for 8 Years
Updated: Mar 19, 2021
I first heard about the importance of a gratitude journal when I was reading one of my favourite books, Simple Abundance Day Book, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. So in 2012, I took the plunge and bought myself a beautiful journal to record my daily list of gratitude. I can now say, as I look over 8 years of entries, that a gratitude journal is one of the most important tools I've ever used for my emotional health.
I don't follow a formula, or use prompts, (and I don't think you should either). I just write whatever feels true that day. Some days I can think of A LOT to write down. I can find endless beauty, love, and awe in my existence. On tougher days, I can only find gratitude for one baseline thing, like being alive, or having a house, or access to good food. I still call that a win.
Besides the really lovely ritual of cozying up on my couch with my coffee, and writing out what I am grateful for each (or most) mornings, what I enjoy most is re-reading my older entries. And I now believe that this is where the real benefits of a gratitude journal shine brightest. It is AMAZING what we forget in our own lives. The simple, precious events that happen to us every day that are cause for deep gratitude. Every time I feel stuck for what to write in my journal, I flip back a few pages and I am flooded with the everyday magic and beauty of my life.
In the 8 years I've kept my journal, I can't believe what's changed. Sometimes as a mother, days begin to blur into each other, and in our mind, they all look the same. We tend to remember only the mundane. But when you have physical evidence, in your own handwriting, you see the truth. The subtle, but sweeping effects of time that have taken place. When I re-read an old entry from my journal, I'm transported back to that moment and that feeling, and I fall back in love with my life.
A gratitude journal is such a simple tool to use, and it can take as long or as a little time as you'd like. You don't need an outline, prompts, or a template. All you need is to capture that one nugget of truth from your day. Your memories of the simple or profound events that make you feel glad to be alive. It's like a little map of all the dear and sweet treasures of your life. And trust me, on the bad days that come to us all, that map will illuminate how fortunate you really are.