Writing it down: practicing gratitude with journaling

Sometime around the beginning of January I discovered an empty 5-minute gratitude journal on my mom’s bookshelf and asked her about it. Seems it was a gift, but she wasn’t using it.

“I read all the quotes,” she explained. “But journaling is not my thing.”

“Can I have it?” I asked and she said yes.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to use it every day, as is the intention, but I liked the layout. It seemed simple and straight-forward even for a typing gal like me; this journal wasn’t meant to be filled out like a diary, but rather focused on short, almost bullet-point type affirmations or statements, which appealed to me.

I learned a lot about positive affirmations in recent months, mostly upon my discovery of Louise Hay.

I’m a big fan of Louise Hay. When I discovered her on YouTube a few months ago I was drawn to her pleasant voice and simple explanations on how, and why, positive affirmations changed her life, and how they can change mine, too.

Using a gratitude journal is a good first step to learning how to use positive affirmations, especially to tackle a bad mood or negative external circumstances.

So does it work?

Well, here’s the thing. I was initially diligent in writing down the morning and evening affirmations and statements into my little journal, and making a big effort to keep negativity at bay.

But then… I don’t know what happened sometime around mid-January but I fell into a deep, dark pit of depression that lasted two weeks. Just looking at the journal made me feel like a fraud.

There were literally days when I wrote down “I’m grateful for tulips” because everything and everyone except for the tulips was pissing me off.

I dropped the journal for a few days, probably almost a week or so, and although I carried it around with me, I didn’t open it nor did I write anything in it for the remainder of January.

It’s ironic, isn’t it. The gratitude journal would be most beneficial on the days a bad mood or excessive negativity affects our disposition…

I couldn’t get past my mood. I understood what happened; the subconscious mind was bullying me and playing all the icky movies of woe-is-me victim-mentality in my head. I recognized that I gave my power away. That’s on me.

I chose to be lazy and let the comfortable misery fester and prevail.

One day at the beginning of February another thing happened and I thought “am I attracting this shit to me with my moody thoughts?”.

Here’s the straw that broke the camel’s back:

My brand-new laptop started acting up when two or three keys began sticking, causing me delays and frustration in my work.

I checked the thing was still under warranty (yes), plugged in an external keyboard (had to borrow one because I left mine at my mom’s house), restarted the damn thing and while I waited for it to boot (yes I still have Windows… don’t talk to me), I glanced at my gratitude journal.

Might as well start today, I told myself and opened up the next empty page. I read the motivational quote, and then declared that I was grateful for tulips.


That was pretty much the only thing I was grateful for.

As I sat there thinking about what else I could be grateful for, I realized there were plenty of things: my new bodum pour-over coffee maker, my steaming mug of hot coffee, the warm beagle snuggled up on my lap during this polar vortex, and the room with a door I get to decompress in at my mom’s house in the suburbs.

It was a start. And that’s the key: starting. Once you start, you can’t stop easily (and that’s the point).

I recalled one video where Louise Hay mentioned there were days when she thanked her bed upon waking just to get the positive train of thought going.

I do like the mattress on the bed I sleep on here in the city, I continued ruminating while petting the warm beagle on my lap and sipping my hot coffee. I sleep on a lumpy futon mattress in my room with a door at my mom’s house, but we’ve been talking of replacing it (note to self: go to Ikea next week).

Restarting journaling wasn’t perfect; I didn’t do the evening reflections but I kept up the morning ones and began to recite the positive affirmations in my head whenever another thing happened that caused me grief or malaise.

Eventually, routine returned, and I stabilized. Maybe that’s all it was? Disruptive schedules? Although that can’t be right, with two teenagers life is anything but routine… Still, a semblance of same thing every weekday for a few hours may have contributed to my sense of needing some order in my life. Taking that gratitude journal and jotting down a few positive notes every day has become part of my habitual routine, one that I enjoy and look forward to.

After all, being grateful for tulips is one affirmation I never get tired of, nor is it one that is never not true.

So, tell me, are you a journaller? Do you practice gratitude on a daily basis? How do you deal with those days or weeks of bad mood?

I’m all ears. See you in the comments.

Thank you for reading my post today.

PS I listed some new product on my Etsy shop Boldly Chic Boutique. You can click the Etsy tab on this website, or head on over to the store and check out my new bracelets.


37 thoughts on “Writing it down: practicing gratitude with journaling

  1. I journal at least weekly, though up until a few years ago, I did so sporadically. It’s a great way to track and dump my thoughts.
    Every morning after doing my self-affirmations, I thank The Universe for all of the lessons and blessings I’ve acquired, then thank God before I sleep.
    It is tougher to feel gratitude on hard days, but I’ve realized that a bad mood will always pass and that it’s up to me to power through and realize it isn’t all bad. For instance, a few weeks ago PMS took hold of my mental health and I wasn’t very kind to myself, but allowed myself to go with my feelings, still practicing my gratitude habit. Thankfully, I’ve gotten better at recognizing when I’m having turbulent thoughts and that my feelings aren’t facts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my! For some reasons I hadn’t been getting your posts. My Spam checker is muy loco.
    I Love Louise Hay! I started using affirmations back in Cuba, when I wanted to leave the country. They worked! I used her book You Can Heal Your Life. I don’t journal, at least not consistently, but have done it occasionally. It can be fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are one of several people who mentioned Louise Hay. She is wonderful and I love her book too! This morning I was listening to her affirmations on YouTube to calm down my racing mind. 🙂

      I noticed you were following me again… Who knows what’s up with WP.

      Glad to have you back. 💖


  3. I have a small mirror in my closet that I write affirmations on like I love you just the way you are, or I forgive you, or how can I help? I change them on occasion but I like the three I have right now. I tend to blog about everything else and of course my secret weapon is my sister. She always has my back and when I’m down she know how to pick me up. Life is not easy and when I’m really down tulips always help! Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First of all, love Louise hay! I read and used her book on mirror work, which really helped me heal from my mother wounds. I do journal, but I use different journals for different purposes; for example, I have a journal specifically for tarot, and I also have a journal specifically for just venting whenever I am angry about something and need to get it out of my head. I keep gratitude separate, and I do use it when I need to remind myself that life isn’t as bad as I probably think it is at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand what you mean about guided, I would never buy one, but it was there, unused, and it helps me to kick-start back from a bad mood.

        When I fill it, it’s unlikely I’ll buy one for next year, but it suits my purposes for now.

        Meanwhile, I tried and hated guided meditations. Took me months to find something that works for me. But the guided ones were practice and helped me eliminate them as a method that works for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That makes sense. I have a guided meditation that I use that’s on YouTube that takes you through the chakras, and it has helped me to develop my own personal meditation practice.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never been a big paper journaler, but I did complete a five-year “Happiness Project” daily one-line thingamabob a couple of years ago. That was more a brief recap of what I did that day – there was nary a mention of tulips, as I recall – but it’s still fun to look back on from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I journaled a lot during our child rearing years. It was a way I could get an issue out of my head. Let it simmer. After a day or two I would go back and reread the entry with fresh eyes and be able to articulate more clearly what the issue was and how to move forward. I also included funny things the kids said or did. So, I guess for me journaling was therapy! 😆

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t keep a journal, but back in the day I did Morning Pages [like everyone else I guess]. I do make sure to focus on gratitude each day, remembering three items, but do so in my mind not on paper. I figure it’s not important to make a written list which seems like clutter to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Keeping your gratitude in your head is more important than writing it down because those thoughts influence more similar thoughts! I agree about more clutter… Meh. 🙃

      I want to reach that point, but to get there I have to write things down for now. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I totally practice gratitude in a daily basis. I have one of those question a day books, and I’ve taken to writing ten things about my day which always includes best, worst, grateful, looking forward to and what I did for self care….this stuff comes naturally in this format for me

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a day when the only thing you’re grateful for is tulips. Life is hard, we can’t be Suzy Sunshine all the time.
    As for journaling… that’s pretty much what I do here. Blog about what’s running through my brain, complain about my husband and comment on the weird stuff I stumble across.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I don’t journal every day … but I do find that it helps “deal” with all the things we come across in our day. We must be on the same wavelength. I have a piece coming on Monday that touches on this in a small way. My question in my piece is for the people who don’t journal or write, how do they celebrate the things they’re grateful for or even cope with things like depression or just the memories or experiences that come up? In any event, thanks for sharing, appreciate knowing what works for others!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I journal. Though lately, it’s been more micro-journaling. And I gave up on using a pen or pencil sometime ago. My handwriting sucks. So…I’m pretty grateful for technology!! And, I do know the value of gratitude. But I tend to just express it verbally rather than write it down much.

    Reading your post has been encouraging for me tonight, as I was practically rage journaling not 30 minutes ago. And then I blogged a bit, and now after reading your blog, I feel pretty normal. So, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! I understand rage journaling. 🤪

      I like the part about writing it down to process and let go, but ended up texting it to a friend I knew would be receptive and help me. Then I deleted the text to get rid of its vibration. Don’t want it to hang on to me any longer…. After, she shared her grief and then I shut it off by focusing only on the positive. “Only good will come of this scenario” I told myself. “This is a life lesson, a minor setback.”.

      Thank you for your comment, David. Keep journaling. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think my journal has room for complaining…it’s not set up that way. Maybe a diary would be full of my complaints, but that would negate the positive affirmations and gratitude I’m trying to give more of my attention to.

      But yes, our blogs have their own values with many like-minded people who can relate and commiserate. 😎


  12. I don’t journal and I rarely put aside a specific time to think about all the positive points in my day. There- it’s out for the world to read: I do not follow the mainstream movement of positivity and gratitude. I admire people who do, as well as those who don’t. I do however try to be conscious in the moment and acknowledge the positive at the time it happens but documenting it in a space- no. I feel like I have a lot of positives in my life right now and those moments of distress that do come usually don’t hang on for long. I know pragmatically that things can change from moment to moment so I don’t think I take the positives for granted. Perhaps I’m not doing myself any favors but the idea of forced awareness sort of rubs me the wrong way.


    1. Living in the moment is a good practice to continue. That’s great you’ve managed to navigate through the distress. I find it sticks around too long for me, but you managed to give it less importance so it moves on quicker.

      Not many people like being told what to do. I found a lot of the mainstream hoopla a little over the top and fad-ish, but I kept reading and listening. It took two years to finally find a method that worked for me, although as you can see by my declarations it’s
      not a perfect science. I fail, I feel like a fraud, I get sucked deep by my pre-programming, and then I get back into it. I just at knew I needed something to help me break out of the mold.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Everyone finds what works for them Claudette, but more importantly I think being open to try things that seem right or helpful is key, even if they come and go or you simply move on to something else. I think it’s important not to beat yourself up if everyday doesn’t work.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Since I read “the secret” I have that stone lying next to my bed. My evening routine is to hold it in my hands and to think of something that I’m grateful for today. Some days it’s hard to find something, some days I’m overwhelmed with a number of things I’m thankful for. And sometimes I simply forget. But I try to stick to my routine and find it very helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

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