A year of gratitude (during one of the worst years of my life)

Back in January 2022 I was finally exploring my own wellbeing. I had found myself, once again, in a stressful job where I was not at all valued and I recognised that I was in a cycle of finding new jobs, getting stressed, burning out and leaving. I decided I was going to do things differently this time. I was doing yoga every day, reading Brené Brown books, listening to wellbeing podcasts and planning to train as a life coach. The biggest take away from those early days of exploring the somewhat vast and odd world of wellbeing was: Gratitude journals were great and they worked! 

So I started one in early January 2022. 

I got this fancy one from Papier!

A gratitude journal, to catch everyone up, is a journal or a diary you write in every evening listing the things from that particular day that you were grateful for. It’s best to be as specific on details as possible. The best way I found to start was to force yourself to write out the words: “I am grateful for …” three times and complete the sentences. I was surprised how easily I incorporated my gratitude journal into my evening routine. I tend to do sewing in the evening before bed so I kept my journal with my sewing stuff and did that before starting to sew. I quickly got into the swing of it.

Journaling made me reflect on each day specifically and think about things that were good on that exact day, things I was glad had happened to me, or glad I had done. Things as seemingly humdrum as eating a particularly good pastry, going for an extra walk at lunchtime in the woods, or watching a funny thing on youtube. Through reflecting on those things, it strengthened in my mind the things that I am grateful for, and helped to remind me to make time and space for them in my day. Even during the worst of 2022 (I won’t go into details of everything, it would take too long), I kept up my journal and found at least three things, even basic basic things like literally being alive, to be grateful for. 

Keeping a gratitude journal is a practice and it’s something you have to commit a bit of your time to doing every day. I know from my experience that it is worth doing, reflecting back over each day and recalling specific things I am grateful for has helped me build a more positive outlook in general. It has made me more aware of the good things in my life that I take for granted and it’s given me evidence to go back and look over during difficult times when things feel hopeless. 

After a while I found I wanted to record more than three things each day, so I ended up buying a bigger journal with more space for each day (as pictured above). I still write out three “I am grateful for…” sentences, then I list all the other stuff I am grateful for from that day as well. 

So I am still going over a year later. It is a practice, so it is something you need to train yourself to do, and to keep doing. I highly recommend starting a journal yourself, start small, you don’t have to wait for a new month or the beginning of the year, you can start whenever you like. Just remember to reflect every day about the specific things that you’re grateful for, start by writing out that sentence three times “I am grateful for…” 

A lot of the changes I made in 2022 have made me so much happier and my gratitude journal has been a huge part of that. Give it a go! 

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