I've been journaling off and on all my life. It started with those tiny lock and key diaries that my mom bought me every year when I was just old enough to write. And I've always loved to write. Maybe because of just this type of encouragement from my mother in those early years. But this is the first year I've actually decided to start a gratitude journal. I chose to use the beautiful journal my boyfriend had given me as a gift the year before. It was so nice I had saved it for something special. Perhaps my intuition was telling me that I would eventually learn how important it is to count my blessings.
I realized, while looking back through my regular journal entries that at times they had become so negative that they became nothing more than bitching sessions. I told myself that it was good for me to let off steam. It was a form of therapy. But as I paged through several journals I noticed that each time I felt neglected or disappointed in myself, my entries became more and more discouraging until I was so disheartened that I even gave up on my journaling for a time. It was evident that the more I complained the more focused I became on the negative aspects of my life.
I've heard and read about gratitude journals for years. I had also been noticing that there was too much negativity surrounding me for some time and I complained that I needed to get away from all that. Suddenly it dawned on me that it wasn't just the cloud of pessimism that was condensing around me - I was now emanating cynicism myself. On a daily basis. What had happened to the strong thread of confidence and contentedness I had always felt within?
I purposely began extracting myself from situations that were not uplifting to me. I began trying to focus on the positive. When those old depressing subjects were brought up by others in conversation, which they often were... I let it be known that I didn't want to hash through it all again. I wanted to let it go. I wanted to forgive and forget. I began to feel that oppressive cloud lift.
I paid attention to my feelings. When my body and emotions began telling me that I was uncomfortable or stressed out by certain circumstances that I had tried, but couldn't change, I stuck to my resolve and let go of them. It wasn't easy and often others didn't understand. Especially those who were a part of my perceived outer negative experience. Perhaps because they were also wrapped up in their own ego cocoon just as I had found myself enveloped in mine. I just felt I needed to get back to my old self, and then hopefully surpass that, the way my soul was telling me to.
It helped. As did those loved ones who supported me through it all. I was beginning to feel my old thankfulness returning to me. I began praying more. For those I felt negativity from, and to erase my own. Not asking for what I thought I needed, but thanking God for what I already had in my life. I began noticing the small things each day that bring happiness. I decided that this is what I need to focus on in my new journal - only what I am truly grateful for in my heart. At first I sometimes had to really think of what to write. Now, after a time, I am choosing the best of the best moments of each day. Whether it be fond memories that cross my mind, new revelations, or just sweet loving moments that pass my way.
Don't get me wrong, there are days when I somehow find a way to be thankful for not having to deal with such and such, or being grateful that I hadn't run into so and so. I still have a long way to go to reach the naturally positive state that I know is within me. But my gratitude journal has given me a reason to watch for the good things that fill each day, to stop to quietly notice the joy that can come from being thankful. Now that I feel more positive, I have decided to add one thing each day that I am grateful for about myself personally. My spirit is starting to feel revived!