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Keeping A Gratitude Journal and Other Ideas for Growing Your Happy Life

Techygran enjoys sharing current information to help herself and others delight in fully creative and healthy, comfortable lives.

To thrive, be grateful, be thankful, live in peace and contentment and love others.

To thrive, be grateful, be thankful, live in peace and contentment and love others.

The New Year is the usual time for people to come up with a resolution (or a pile of them) towards improving life. These resolutions-- or goals-- have a focus on what is lacking or gone awry, and their correction. You weren't able to take a holiday last year? Well, how about that little chart where you save increasing amounts of money each week, systematically, until the end of the year you have enough to go to Mexico for Christmas? The same with weight-- if I lose X number of pounds each week I will be at my "ideal weight" by July 17th in time to slip into my wedding gown for my 30th anniversary. That sort of thing!

The gyms are full of eager resolution-makers at the beginning of each New Year, and dwindle down to the usual, long-term members by early February. This early New Year optimism is short-lived. Temptation kicks Hope to the curb, and we're back to feeling gloomy and negative within weeks. I'm sorry, but that is just how it is for the vast number of us, whether or not we invested thousands in decoding the Secret or not.

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”

— ― Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

The Gratitude Pillow

Not everyone reading this far in this hub will experience resonance with any faith passage from the Bible. And even many who DO believe, and have 'walked with Jesus' for a long time, will be a little bewildered by what seems to be a suggestion that goal-setting is futile, when many of us can list times that people we know-- or maybe even us-- have set goals, accomplished what was set out to attain, and now are leading the most splendid of peace-filled, love-filled, fame-filled, wealth-filled, joy-filled lives.

I am in no way suggesting that you should NOT set goals and strive to fulfill them in this coming year. What I am going to suggest is that besides whatever goals we feel strongly about, we also introduce a strong component of gratitude (or worship, if you come from that perspective) into our lives. You can read the masses of literature out there about the benefits of daily recognition of what you have to be grateful for. I would like to challenge anyone reading this to add in the goal to spend some daily time going over the blessings they already experience, along with the dream boards, coaching workshops, gym memberships and other accoutrements of goal-setting and self-improvement campaigns. I can assure you that if you have an earnest desire to see and record the good that enters your life daily, you WILL see it, and you will also witness a stream of unforeseen blessings that will eclipse the glory of other goals you set.

Writing in a Gratitude Journal is a personal matter-- you pick the time and place and how!

Writing in a Gratitude Journal is a personal matter-- you pick the time and place and how!

Gratitude Projects

1. The Gratitude Journal This is pretty self-explaining and widely practiced. Get a book you can write in, or open a file on your computer, and make a daily list of what you are grateful for each day. This is often done upon retiring, but could well be done the next morning about the day before. You can adapt the Journal to be what you want, from the mere listing of 5 items you are grateful for daily, to the journaling of other 'gratitude projects' listed below.

This is generally a private and reflective exercise. Some people like to establish a private place set aside just for the journaling, sometimes a special comfy chair or pen.

Taking a page from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron (sorry for the bad metaphor), some may want to do their journaling on detached pieces of lined paper with a focus on the positives, and put each day's writing into a manila envelope to be re-read at a later time. And, finally, there are many folks who will opt for a Prayer Journal in lieu of a Gratitude Journal, reflecting on their Spiritual walk, and recording prayers they pray, praises, and the answers to prayers.

The #1 Bestseller in Gratitude Journals for Women

2. The Facebook Gratitude Challenge - This is one of those Facebook-originated invitations among 'friends' to spend each of 7 days listing what they are most grateful for, and tagging friends to do the same each day. This could likely be done apart from Facebook, over the phone, by email, in person (? novel thought). There is something very touching about having your friends share their blessings with you, and being able to do the same with them. If you want to know the actual mechanics of initiating this "challenge" on Facebook, ask me in a comment and I can send you a link that explains.

The Thankfulness Jar


3. The Gratitude / Thankfulness / Happiness Jar - Start off with an empty mason jar with a lid, teeny pieces of paper, and a pen, maybe in the middle of your table. Everyday write down something you are grateful for that day and put it in the jar. Read the contents of the jar at Thanksgiving or New Year's Eve.

4. 7-Day Gratitude Challenge- Unlike the previous projects, this 'challenge' asks that you DO actual appreciative acts to demonstrate your gratitude. Examples are: Day 1, Send flowers to your parent(s), Day 2, Send handwritten thank-you cards to 5 people you hold dearest and so on. If you are interested in knowing more about this, I can provide you with a link.

5. 30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge- Do yourself, or do it with family and/or friends. Take photos of various events with a caption around why you are grateful regarding this particular situation. Like photo contests, you could have a Gratitude Theme for each day as well. Post your photos in an online album, blog, Facebook, or in an actual scrapbook or photo album.

6. Gratitude / Thankfulness Tree - This project is great for parents with small kids, or in a classroom or day care. Each day heart-shaped colored construction paper leaves receive a written gratitude and are taped to the large tree and branches outline on a wall. Or, a little more concrete yet, you could be like friends of ours who keep their artificial Christmas tree up all year round and hang gratitude notes from the branches, along with prayers they have prayed for various friends, etc.

7. The Gratitude Advent Calendar

Michael Cunliffe of Oak Bay, BC beside the family's "Gratitude Tree" December 2020

Michael Cunliffe of Oak Bay, BC beside the family's "Gratitude Tree" December 2020

During the Christmas season in 2020, at the height of the Corona virus Pandemic, a thoughtful family in Oak Bay, British Columbia (on Vancouver Island), decided that they would erect a sort of Gratitude Advent Calendar in their front yard.They felt a lot of gratitude about their own good health and family togetherness and wanted a way to share their gratitude, and perhaps encourage more kindness and concern. Each day during Advent, they hang a small shingle with a gratitude task or statement, such as "Be friendly to a stranger". Learn more about this project HERE. They are in their 3rd Advent season and have had a lot of positive feedback about their project.

8. Loving Service / "Giving Back" - I am often totally gob-smacked by the variety and creativity of those people who "give back" in good works for the thankfulness they feel for some similar kindness or extreme sacrifice made for their benefit. Children who grow up watching significant others showing loving caring for people and the environment will generally grow into adults who volunteer and serve others first throughout their lives. If you haven't been close to anyone like that in your growing-up, don't rule out having mentors in your mature years-- look for people to admire for their kindness and giving unselfishly of themselves. Try out some of what they model. Read biographies of great giving people and reflect on what motivated them. More stories about such folks on Hubpages will be appreciated.

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Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 14, 2015:

Hey there Flourish-- nice to see you! Happy New Year! Thank you for your comments-- I am so grateful for your being part of the Hubpages community!

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 14, 2015:

I liked the diversity of project suggestions. I have done something similar to the Thankfulness Tree with my family in between Thanksgiving and Christmas and it was a very rewarding experience.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 12, 2015:

Thanks so much for the comments RTalloni-- Happy New Year to you as well! My husband and I are enjoying the Gratitude Jar together ad it is filling up fast... it is a highly visible reminder of how much we are grateful for, and how much there is to be grateful for. All the best, Cynthia

RTalloni on January 09, 2015:

Focusing on what we have to be grateful for is an eye-opening experience. Journaling about it is a unique journey for every one who does it. Glad to see the idea along with other ones presented here for the new year!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on January 01, 2015:

Happy New Year BlossomSB - thank you for dropping by! Yes, I agree that it's uplifting to review the happy, positive events and feelings that we record in our journals-- and there IS so much to be grateful for! May you continued to be blessed as you journal/journey into 2015! ~Cynthia

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on January 01, 2015:

I really enjoyed your hub. A great topic to choose for the beginning of a new year. I've kept a journal for years - it's wonderful to go back and read if I'm feeling down. There's so much to be thankful for.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 31, 2014:

Hey SayYesToLife, thanks for adding a testimony to the power of gratitude and some more possibilities for a "project". Tonight might be a good time to list reasons why my husband and I love living on Vancouver Island! Happy New Year! ~Cynthia

Yoleen Lucas from Big Island of Hawaii on December 31, 2014:

I've read The Secret twice, and get emails from them. I save the emails in a special folder. I made a list of all the benefits I have from living in Hawaii, and another list of times when I used my own good judgment and things worked out well as a result. Yes, gratitude works! Focusing only on the negative can lead you to dump everything for the one thing you don't have - then you discover you miss out on everything else.

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 30, 2014:

Hi AliciaC - Yes, I believe that service (or 'ministry' as it is known in more religious context) is a high form of expressing gratitude. I aspire to that this coming year-- this past year I have been fairly reclusive and lazy and have reaped the results of that with a lot of discontent and not much social interaction and joy. I appreciate your coming by and sharing your comments! Happy New Year! ~Cynthia

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 30, 2014:

Happy New Year Ms. Dora-- I hope you had a lovely Christmas! Yes, number five interests me as well, but it likely we will go with the Thankfulness Jar this year. Thanks for dropping by! ~Cynthia

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 30, 2014:

Deborah Demander , you are very welcome for the suggestion-- and I like your idea of including the gratitude in your Daily Planner, something that you likely have with you every day and consult often! Happy New Year to you!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 30, 2014:

Dear ChitrangadaSharan, For the life of me, I can't imagine you complaining-- you always seem so positive and kind on Hubpages! But I believe the gratitude projects are a good idea regardless of where we might be in our lives and our attitudes... let me know how it goes! Happy New Year to you as well!

Cynthia Zirkwitz (author) from Vancouver Island, Canada on December 30, 2014:

RachelOhalloran- that sounds like a great idea-- integrating what you are already doing with the gratitude! Thanks for the vote! Happy New Year!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 30, 2014:

Thank you for sharing these useful ideas. I love the idea of expressing gratitude by performing a service to others.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on December 30, 2014:

Thanks for these meaningful gratitude challenges. I always want to do more than I actually do along these lines. Number 5 will be my focus among these. Happy New Year!

Deborah Demander from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on December 30, 2014:

Thanks for the great suggestions. I plan to add a gratitude section to my daily planner.


Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 30, 2014:

This sounds really interesting and I am going to follow your idea of 'Gratitude projects'. It would be satisfying to read it after sometime. I also like the 'Thankfulness jar.' Most of the time, we keep on complaining about what we could not achieve and we do not pay attention to 'how much we have achieved!'

Thanks for sharing and a very happy new year to you!

Rachael O'Halloran from United States on December 30, 2014:

I keep a "goal" journal and after reading this article, I've decided to add a "gratitude" page after each day's entry. Voted up, useful and interesting.

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