On Gratitude Journalling // Shattering Stigmas

Posted October 8, 2017 by Inge in Mad Talk // Personal / 10 Comments

Shattering Stigmas is an annual blogging event that lasts two weeks. During this fortnight, we’ll be talking about anything and everything mental health related. The aim of these posts are to take away some of the stigma surrounding mental illness, to invite people to open up about their stories, and to help others learn.

Make sure you check out our other stigma ninjas:

On gratitude journalling

It’s so easy to be negative all the time. It’s more difficult to get into a positive mindset, where you feel good about yourself and your day. But a positive outlook on life gets easier with practice. This is where a gratitude journal comes in.

The main principle of a gratitude journal is to jot down positive things. Things that happened during the day, things that you saw, things that you did that you were (even just a little bit) proud of. See it as a reward that you get to write these things down in a journal; you get to relive them as you write them down, and later on, on a day where you’re feeling a bit blue, you get to open this journal and read all these things and it’ll put a smile on your face.

In the beginning, finding positive and happy things may be more difficult. But once you’re paying attention, it’ll become easier to notice these things. See it as an exercise, something you can train — because you can train yourself to be more positive!

“But nothing special happens to me,” you might say. Ah, but there’s the thing. A journal like this isn’t about the big things — it’s about us learning to appreciate the little things in life. People are so focussed on the big things, like having a successful relationship or getting a promotion, but true happiness lies in the little things. The fact that you called up your grandma for a chat, or that you made someone smile, or that you went for a walk today. You had a good meal, your tea was the perfect temperature, your dog greeted you excitedly, you took care of yourself. When you combine all of these little things, that makes for a pretty good day.

My first project was a positivity box. The principle is the same: I wrote down stuff that happened to me that made me feel good on a colourful piece of paper, I put the paper in the box, and at the end of the year, I got to open this box and look at all the stuff that went on this year. This alternative may appeal to you more than a journal if you’re very creative, because this is a more visual way of taking on the project. You can also use a jar for this, so you can watch the pile of positive paper grow. Here’s some of the stuff I wrote down when I first started:

  • I made banana cake for the first time and it didn’t suck
  • I wasn’t feeling well, so my brother stayed home and played Mario Kart with me
  • Hmmm, cheesy crusted pizza is amazing

Being house bound with anxiety, I realise my pieces of paper weren’t the most exciting. I can’t write down stuff like “I went to see my favourite band!” or “Spent the past week travelling through Ireland” or “I had an epiphany and I’ve decided to become a pie critic and eat all the pies”. I write about my cat a lot. But they are little things, and little things can bring a lot of joy as well. Over time, as I’ve been working on my exposure therapy, I’ve been able to write down bigger things. I went to Germany, saw my friends, worked on eating outside of the house. But it’s still the little things which make up your day, though they are so easily overlooked. I’ve been gratitude journalling for almost three years now and I’ve definitely become more mindful of them.

The little things matter most of all, and you’ll want to remember them.

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10 responses to “On Gratitude Journalling // Shattering Stigmas

  1. Gah, I LOVE this idea, and honestly I really want to start doing it? I’d always spent more of my life dwelling on the negative, but that would hurt my mental health so much. So sometimes after the day is over, I like to think about all the good and positive things from it, and I want to share them all, but I doubt people want to hear everything. So, yeah, I should just do this for myself. Thanks for mentioning it, Inge!

    • I think you’d be surprised! I would love to hear about the good things in your day. But sometimes it’s good to keep things private as well. You’re doing this for you.

  2. ahitsdina

    Inge, this is scary and hard. It’ll take me some time to work on this. But, I’m glad to have read this, because hope is worth trying out. I’ll try. *Big hugs* We got this.You’re awesome.

  3. I mean you can still eat all the pies at home, I’m not sure I can accept this excuse to not become a pie critic… In all seriousness, appreciating the “small” things can go such a long way to feel more positive overall. I did the jar thing for a year or two, but I think I stopped when I moved? I don’t have one now, but when I was having a difficult time lately, I tried to notice the good things I have each day, and it definitely helped to put me in a better mindset.

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