Takeaways from keeping a gratefulness journal

Jan. 9, 2018, 1:00 a.m.

My New Year’s resolution for 2017 was to keep a gratefulness journal. Every day, I would write down three things I was thankful for. I’m no stranger to journaling, but this was the first gratefulness journal I’d ever done. With Thanksgiving gone and the year coming to a close, I decided to reflect on my writing experience. Here are a few of my thoughts:

Simple things can be the best.

Two of the things I’ve written about most in my journal are food and the Stanford campus. And it’s not even fancy food; I’m talking Lag chicken or pasta with tomato sauce. I’ve written about getting an internship offer or going to a concert, but usually I write about the things I see every day. Now, I feel happier just by looking at the trees outside my window.

You’ll have more to write on some days than on others.

Sometimes when I wrote, I couldn’t limit myself to just three things. On other days, I could barely think of two. If you keep a gratefulness journal, the thoughts won’t flow as smoothly on some days, and that’s okay. Even if you have to write the most mundane or obvious thing in the world, keeping a consistent list will help you reap the benefits of a gratefulness journal.

It’s not a magic solution.

When I started this journal, I thought I would immediately feel more positive and never worry again. That was not the case. I still get stressed over both big and small things, but over time, I’ve developed more positive ways of thinking. It’s not a quick fix; you learn gradually by writing and reading what you wrote. You might laugh at some of your lists, but hey, you learned something new.

Thanksgiving has ended, but thankfulness shouldn’t. When things seem daunting, it’s important to take a step back and remember what has made you happy. It could be family, nature or a sport, but choose and reflect on what matters to you. As for me, I might even continue this journal next year. Who says you can’t repeat New Year’s resolutions?


Contact Kristen Lee at klee23 ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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