I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for about six monthes now. It was something recommended to be by a friend of mine who also has Bipolar. I thought I’d write a little bit about what the process has been like for me and share some of the things I am grateful for.
I think it is incredibly valuable to take stock at the end of the day. Some days it is really easy to think of something I am grateful for. I may even know what I am going to write by 10am. For instance, ‘I am grateful to the lady who told me I had beautiful eyes as I walked into the exam room. It was the confidence boost I needed.’ As soon as that happened to me I felt immediate gratitude and it was easy to recognise that feeling and document it. Another obvious example that jumps to mind is ‘I am grateful for the moment Jack (my partner) and I shared when we sat and watched the seals at the zoo play in their whirlpool as the sun danced in the water.’ In that moment, I was truly, irrevocably happy. I did not have to think twice about what I was grateful for that day.
Other days it isn’t so easy. Some days I feel like crap. My day has been busy and I feel as though I have dragged myself through all of it. This is where I think the gratitude journal is most useful. It forces me to reflect on my day and find the grain of joy. On these days I don’t even want to look at my gratitude journal but I get it out and get thinking. This is where it is time to get back to basics; ‘I am grateful for my body that allows me to exercise and better myself mentally and physically’. Too often we forget how blessed we are even to walk and my gratitude journal helps remind me of that. Another key example is ‘I am grateful for the senior corgi on the train today’. On a crummy day, I struggled to think of anything I enjoyed but then I remembered the gorgeous dog I got to pet and it made me smile. I love how my gratitude journal helps me to re-frame how my day actually was.
One of the best things about my gratitude journal is reading back over it. In preparation for this post I read through the last six monthes of gratitude and I could not stop smiling and giggling. I even shed a few tears. It was remarkable how many memories would have slipped through the cracks if I hadn’t of written them down. It is lovely to capture those moments, note them down and be able to reflect on them later. Something that really stood out to me was how much progress I had made. Often going through the rat race of university and work it can feel like I’m not progressing. But when I read my gratitude journal I was struck by a change in mindset and increasing openness to gratitude. I had collected so many positive experiences and lessons and I don’t think I would have realised that without my gratitude journal.
So if you’ve ever thought of keeping a gratitude journal, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It can feel a bit forced and trite at times but once you get into the swing of things it really is a valuable tool in nourishing one’s mental health.