I keep a gratitude journal. It’s actually a tire grateful for a 2nd life as a journal cover, a gift from my younger son. Since it still smells, even now, of the tire-it-used-to-be, it became a journal I use, but don’t live with. My gratitude journal.
But more than a year after I began it, I wouldn’t want to live without it. My life seems different, as I chronicle 4-5 times a week just what I’m grateful for.
Today, driving with my wonderful husband to breakfast in mid-town, I watched as 60+ Canadian geese cut the blue Oklahoma sky with strong wing beats, each goose within place, soaring and wheeling and stopping all the world’s motion around them. Until all there seemed to be was the climb of geese into the sky.
A gratitude journal saves these moments. And unlike poetry, which is hard work, all I have to do is record. If I’m in a bad mood, tired or feeling out of sorts, the simple act of listing five things that happened today to be grateful for smooths the rough edges. Days when the bus trip to work seems one long jangle, and the neediness of colleagues, students and even friends almost too much to respond to, a quiet moment of gratitude for the everyday magic that dances through my life is enough to reframe everything.
Late last fall a friend and I were discussing gratitude journals. She asked how long I’d been keeping mine. Not long, I told her — less than a year. And she said the loveliest thing: she said she thought I must have had one for quite a while, because I seemed grateful for things. And I listen, she said.
Because I think of myself as a complete motor-mouth (my father used to tease me that I was vaccinated with a phonograph needle ), I was deeply touched. She also asked me if I think that keeping the journal has changed me. And I do.
There is great sadness and injustice — even evil — in the world. But there is also so much to love: beauty that stops the breath, music that heals the heart, a sun and moon that rise and set in clouds of light. There is honey from the bee as well as the possibility of sting. There is warmth from the fire that can burn. The thing about a gratitude journal? It helps you remember: life is good ~