When I was little, I used to get sick a lot and had to stay home from school. My Mama started giving me her old Readers’ Digest day planners to keep a journal so that I wasn’t just laying around and I could practice writing every day. So that’s when my journaling practice began.
Then when I lived in Tallahassee, Fla., a few of us ladies from the Tallahassee Democrat started a journaling group. We pretty much followed the program laid out in Iyanla Vanzant’s One Day My Soul Just Opened Up: 40 Days and 40 Nights Toward Spiritual Strength and Personal Growth. This book offers ways to explore your feelings about love, life, friends, family, self-worth — you name it. It has writing exercises that are really helpful and doing this in a weekly group environment that was warm and non-judgmental was eye-opening.
So even aside from being a journalist, I’ve always loved to write on a regular basis.
Growing up with my aunt and grandparents as my primary caregivers when my parents were just a short bus ride away, left me with many questions about my life. So I had a lot of things to write about. As I grew older and started understanding my situation more, I made a conscious choice to be grateful for my circumstances.
Starting a gratitude journal was so easy for me. On the days that seemed bad, I’ve been grateful for having my health, feet to walk, eyes to see, hands to type (so I can work). Large or small — nothing is exempt.
I know some people who do their gratitude journaling on Fridays and call their books “TGIF.” The format and frequency is all up to you. But I say that it’s an empowering thing to add to your life, no matter how often you do it. Many days I have to take the focus off of the pain of not being with my daughter every day, so I list the things that I am grateful for. And among those things is always that Torie is happy and healthy and with people who love and protect her. Going over my “gratitudes” helps me keep things in perspective.
Negative: I work nights and can’t be with my daughter every day. Positive: I see her every weekend and our time WILL come to be together again.
Negative: I had a long, tiring day at work. Positive: I have a job.
Negative: I just got a huge medical bill in the mail. Positive: I have a job that will allow me to pay it eventually.
Negative: Geez, the doctor just found something else wrong with me. Positive: I have a doctor that is being vigilant about my care.
So even if I have something negative on my mind, I’m sure to write and/or say aloud the good that’s in that situation. It’s a great exercise for everyone. Let me know if you have a regular gratitude practice and what you do to stay positive.
- Oprah’s Gratitude Journal (marthathecollegeyears.wordpress.com)
- Keep a Gratitude Journal (po11ycheck.wordpress.com)