Gratitude journals are a tool used in many disciplines. Psychologists prescribe them to combat depression. Writing and creativity coaches encourage them as inspiration. Religious leaders recommend them as a way to focus on the blessings in our lives. There is even a Wikipedia entry on gratitude journals, and for those who want a special place to write, you can buy hardbound volumes or download an app.
I first became exposed to focusing on what I am grateful for in my life through The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. One of the exercises she suggests for readers who want to explore their creativity is to make a gratitude list. In Vein of Gold, she recommends a weekly gratitude walk — a time alone to focus on your blessings.
- Life and good health. An acquaintance died suddenly last week, reminding me to live each day as best I can.
- My fine family, full of good people with only minor foibles and quirks. They make my life worth living.
- A comfortable home and enough money to avoid most financial worries.
- Friends that keep me from being lonely, people who touch my life as I touch theirs.
- The support of colleagues and mentors over the course of my careers – as a lawyer and mediator, as a Human Resources director, and as a writer. You know who you are, and you have given me a sense of community and belonging.
- Books. Sometimes they let me escape from reality, and other times they let me enter another’s reality.
- A pastor whose homilies challenge my complacency and keep me humble.
- The Internet that brings the world’s knowledge to my fingertips, and devices that let me take that knowledge anywhere.
- The beauty and ferocity of nature. Oceans and sunshine and mountains and forest remind me of my insignificance and that of my worries. There is a power in this universe which I cannot control.
- Babies. Each one is a new hope for the world.
This list is certainly not exhaustive, nor even in order of importance. Simply the things that came to mind this morning as I wrote in my journal.
What is on your gratitude list this Thanksgiving?