Do you know what you did on June 17, 2005? No? Well, I do. I know that I had lunch with a friend, bought a new pair of jeans and felt very happy at the end of the day. Now, I don’t actually remember these events on my own – although some people actually can (www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7162994n) – but I have a “Special Kind of Crazy” that remembers for me. We BSLM bloggers are an “interesting” bunch. We make spill-catching bibs for our coffee cups and get a bit too excited about rows of perfectly sharpened pencils. But sometimes, our particular “crazy” might be something you’d like too! So, in that spirit, I’d like to share mine with you.
I have had many failed attempts at keeping a journal. I’ve tried various times throughout my life, from childhood to the year 2005, to keep a detailed, daily, written-before-I-go-to-bed type account of my life. I’ve bought beautiful writing pads, colored pens, created Word documents and more in the hopes that some external source will keep me motivated to write about my day. I wanted to capture how I felt and what was going on in my life and what my dreams and goals were for the next day, but all I ever managed was a few days of stilted entries that captured nothing but the pressure I was clearly feeling to “write beautifully” and “do this daily”. So, like anything your heart is not truly desiring to do, I gave up. I gave up every time. That is, until that life-changing day in the summer of 2005 when I was introduced to the idea of a Gratitude Journal (let’s all give a hearty round of applause to the a-ha moment queen herself, Ms. Oprah Winfrey!) The idea of the gratitude journal is to write down one thing that you are grateful for today – small or large – in essence, always saying, “I will have gratitude for this day.”
One sentence?!? That’s it? No problem! So I bought a simple lined journal and wrote a day of the year at the top of each page (January 1st, January 2nd, etc.), so each day of the year has its own page. When you make an entry for that particular day, you list the year, the day of the week and your thought for that day. Over time, you’ll have a page full of entries for each day and a record of your life throughout the years – big things and small.
Here are some examples of my recent entries:
- “Starting the day with an iced coffee and a crossword is so peaceful and relaxing. Remembering to appreciate the quiet mornings makes the busy ones just a bit more tolerable!”
- “Bought 5 new songs on iTunes and listened to them over and over again. New music is so energizing!”
- “Jacque and I stay up WAY too late talking about boys and shoes and what to wear on a first date!”
Of course, your daily entries will not and don’t have to look like mine. I am very heavy-handed with the exclamation points, you need not share my punctuational enthusiasm.
I love having the ability to look back on the years and rediscover old jokes or tidbits from my day that made me laugh until I cried at the time. Without my daily journal, they’d be lost forever. I’ve also discovered patterns I have that I was unaware of and can now use to better plan my life. After 6 years of journaling this way, it is very clear that, generally, January does not feel like the New Year to me. But rather, I discovered a lot of my thoughts of the day in February were about how energized and refreshed I felt – ready to tackle a big project. So now, I cut myself some slack in January, planning small goals and projects, and wait until February to really dive into the big stuff. My journal is also a great way to see how I’ve handled disappointments and fears in the past. I get to see the process of applying to and completing graduate school over and over again – which is a constant reminder that when I set my sights on something, I know how to go out there and make it happen. Same for seeing how I dealt with relationships ending, illnesses and other losses. When you are feeling lower than you ever have before and it feels like life will never get better (we have all been there), my journal reminds me that it does get better. It may take more page turns than I would have liked, but eventually, my smile returns and my journal reflects it and I feel deeply grateful for the one sentence daily commitment I have made and kept throughout the years.
Post authored by Erin Jerozal