Over 15 years ago I joined a ladies support group. The idea of the group was to support each other in our goals. I don’t actually remember what my goal was, what I do remember is …
The Gratitude Journal
In our first session our group leader encouraged us to engage in something “concrete” that we could bring with us every week and share if we were inspired to.
The goal was simple: EVERY DAY write three things we were grateful for. The overall goal was to do this for the duration of the course — 10 weeks. I kept my gratitude journal going for over 18 months and filled four journal books.
At first, I struggled. What WAS I grateful for. I had a hard time coming up with three things each day. One day I spent a whole hour trying to figure out what I was grateful for. I had joined the group because I was depressed. It was a time of darkness for me and it appeared to me that I had nothing to be grateful for.
In our second group session, we were encouraged to share our experiences of writing in our journals, and we were invited to read from our lists.
This was an eye-opener for me and I realized that I DID have things to be grateful for. Instead of looking for life changing, BIG things I needed to focus on all the little things.
Having moved from Edmonton, Alberta where winter temperatures were often below 30 degrees Celcius (0 Fahrenheit) and where it could snow daily for a month … I now lived in Vancouver where glory be, there was NO snow for years on end.
Every day for a month, I wrote this:
I am grateful that I live in Vancouver — NO snow!
I love, love, love cats and was privileged to be asked to care for a neighbors brood. First three beautiful cats, then two and then one. They now all live in kitty heaven, where they get cream and tuna every day. At the time, my neighbor would sometimes be gone for a month or more.
I am grateful for all the happy purring bodies and the wonderful petting fest. Thank you Powder. Thank you Pansy.
Thank you Sam Pam.
I started being grateful for the fact that I had friends, and for the wonderful ladies in my support group.
There were days when my depression overwhelmed me. I learned that by opening my journal and reading my gratitude lists (aloud) that I could lift myself out of my depression and continue life with a smile on my face.
Many days my daily gratitude list numbered five, ten and more entries. Other days short for time, I’d end up repeating myself — no snow, beautiful Vancouver, kitty friends.
Over time I found myself looking for moments to be grateful for, observing the things going on around me and for things I used to take for granted.
I am grateful for garbage pickup and for those
who are willing to do this job.
One week I was in a grocery store I frequented regularly. In the line up I noticed a little (4′ 9″) old lady buying a very frugal amount of groceries. ONE carrot, TWO small potatoes, a discounted bag of salad and a can of cat food. It occurred to me that the cat food might be for her. She paid in change, nickles and pennies.
I am grateful that I don’t have to eat cat food.
The next week I saw her again. I rushed to the cashier and “conspired” with her. I would pay for the food … I gave the cashier $20. The old lady was to be told that it was a gift from an angel.
Later when I paid for my own groceries, the cashier gave me my change and told me that the recipient of my gift looked so relieved she almost cried.
Over the next few years, I was able to be an angel several times more. Each time I experienced a moment of PROFOUND GRATITUDE. Doing this little thing made me so unspeakably happy!
I am grateful that $10 can light up a face and
make a big difference.
The Gratitude Journal changed me profoundly.
- I notice little things.
- I purposefully create moments of gratitude every day.
- Even on dark days I find moments to be thankful for.
Even though I have not kept a gratitude journal for years, I occasionally lift one of my old journals off the shelf and read. I almost always end up with a BIG grin on my face and a feeling of total contentment.
The reason I am writing this article is because I needed to remind myself about what’s important in life. I am once again in a dark place, struggling with life.
I bought myself a new gratitude journal today and have already started writing in it.
I am grateful it is spring, the air is sweet and fresh
and filled with promise.
I am so incredibly grateful for my kitty — BOO.
He is a daily joy!
This time I am going to add some color and images to my journal. I have a wonderful set of colored pencils that need to get used up. I have a couple of “how to draw” books that tempt me … it is time to give into temptation!
I love these happy children. I think I can draw something like that! I will be grateful for anything I draw and if it is really bad, I will be grateful I can tear out the page and start again! LOL
How to Find Gratitude in YOUR Life
1. Get your your address book or phone directory. Go through the list and think about each of the people (or businesses) that you know. Why are you friends? What have they done for you? What services do the businesses provide that are of value to you? Be grateful.
2. Look at all the little (or big) things that make your life easier. Your mail delivery, ordering on-line, a package of goodies all the way from China! The library. Free events.
3. Look at past “negative” experiences. What good came of them? What did you learn?
4. Look at past “good” experiences. Why were they good? What did you learn?
5. Look around your home. Look at each thing … what are you grateful for? Open a drawer and go though the stuff in the drawer … what are you grateful for? OMG — a potato peeler! It not only helps you effortlessly peel potatoes, carrots, apples and more, but you can make zucchini noodles with it.
I am so grateful for my potato peeler.
It is pure magic!
6. Look around your town or city. What events do they have in which your can participate? What amenities? I now live in Edmonton, Alberta. Famous for having the largest mall in North America. Am I grateful for that? Hmmmm. I AM grateful for the hundreds of miles of riverbank walking trails. I am also grateful for the Wood Buffalo National Park (second largest national park in the WORLD) only 50 miles away.
7. Look at the rights and freedoms we have.
8. Go into any supermarket, stationary store, electronics store, furniture or decorating store, clothing store. Bananas don’t grow in Canada, yet I can go into any large grocery store and get some. Am I grateful that this is possible?
PLEASE … HELP ME GROW THIS LIST.
What three things are YOU grateful for?
Comments AND photos are welcomed with open arms!