Why Now Is The Time To Start A Gratitude Journal

Monday, April 20, 2020


One of my favorite TV quotes of all times was spoken by the ever lovely Eric Matthews on Boy Meets World: "Life's tough - get a helmet."  I loved it when I was younger.  A quirky, funny line spoken by an older brother to a younger one with just a touch of wisdom to create a genuine moment.

I used to think Eric's advice meant to fortify myself with defenses, to always be prepared for what life threw at you. While that's certainly not a bad interpretation, I think I misunderstood him the first time.  You have to make your own lift helmet.  I wasted a lot of time doing that with building walls and doing my best to keep people out.  As time goes on, I realize that the stuff I make my helmet out of isn't just meant to protect me - it needs to actively help me get back up and keep going too.

In June of last year, I decided to start a Gratitude Journal.  Historically, I'm a pen to paper journal keeper.  With my Gratitude Journal, though, I wanted it to be with me everywhere I went. I also wanted to somehow keep it locked down so I could be free to write the super dorky things I wanted to express without the fear a prying eye would find it.  Carrying around a physical copy left me feeling exposed. I did a little of the google and discovered Penzu.  It had a lock feature and I downloaded.  We've been together ever since.

My daily goal is to write five things I'm grateful for and sometimes that can be as simple as a text message from a friend or that I did all the dishes.  It's small.  It doesn't always alter my mood around in the moment, but to be honest, my daily gratitude isn't so much for Present Jen as they are for Future Jen. Penzu sends me e-mails every few days and says "Hey - remember what you wrote on this day in August?" and up pops five things I was grateful for in the past.  Rereading small victories that lead me to where I am right now is major.  Especially, right now.

My Gratitude Journal these days tends to read pretty similar no matter what days it is:
1. I am grateful I have a place to live.
2. I am grateful I still have my job.
3. I am grateful I'm not alone.
4. I am grateful I can communicate with my friends.
5. I am grateful I took a shower today.

And yet. I know it's for future me to remember I made it through.  Present Jen is pretty happy to read about the girl who was taking chances with some guy she met on a dating app. I like being reminded about that workout I scheduled with one of my best friends and we didn't end up doing because we sat on the floor in our workout gear and talked for three hours instead. I like remembering that sometimes the smaller moments are the ones I cherish most.

We're going through a collective trauma together.  Right now, it's more crucial to find ways to be thankful and appreciative or we risk sinking to the lowest versions of ourselves. We all need to be reminded that everything, the good and the bad, is temporary.  But no matter what moment you're in, we have to find ways to be grateful for where we are.

5 comments

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