The Gratitude Journal

A few months ago I left the low-paying job I've had for several years, through college and after. I left without another job lined up, mainly due to the deep and pervasive unhappiness it encouraged in my life. For the first week or two of being unemployed, I was really, really happy (duh). But that sugar-high faded away fast, much faster than I'd expected. Expectation, the mother of all fuck-ups, no? It's widely held that each person has a natural happiness "set point" that isn't altered very much by either great or terrible life events. I remember being a rather sullen child, so I guess I just wasn't blessed with the positivity gift. But I think I still have time to elevate my internal thermostat, as in, you know, it's never too late to get in shape! Which makes trying to break negative thought patterns every day like a work out for your soul or strength training for your brain.

Right now, I really want to recommit myself to slowing down, so I can practice patience, positivity and awareness. One of the best habits I keep returning to for bringing awareness and good energy into your life is by keeping a gratitude journal. I've tried many, many times before and totally slacked on this daily practice. I tend to do something for a few days, maybe a week or two, and then if I don't attain some sort of marvelous result, I lose all focus and drive. I have so many wonderful reasons to be thankful, but I get completely snarled in negative thoughts way too often for my liking. Obviously, I need to work on these things. Actively.

Research into depression and anxiety has shown that keeping a gratitude journal or diary can help to alleviate illness. Basically, it involves pausing for a few minutes at the end of each day to reflect on and write down at least three things that made you happy, or proud, or thankful, or just made your feel good (without making you feel bad right after). Making this little list every single day helps you focus on the positive things in your life. Acknowledging your blessings can help break the cycle of feeling bad about what you don't have. It should take at least one month to really make a difference in your life; at least six months before you can really call it a "habit" (in the good way). So, I'm busting out a fresh little moleskin journal that Eric got me for Christmas. It's all ready to go on my nightstand, with its own pen, ready to hold my thanks.

If anyone reading this keeps up such a journal-ling practice, or has other genuine ways of 
coping with negative thoughts, please let me know in the comments, or email me. 
Or even if you are still struggling. I would love to hear from you