Do you have a gratitude journal?
I do, and let me tell you why and what keeps it going.
In fact, there are two things that I usually have nearby — a cup of coffee and a journal. I feel naked without either.
Well, actually, I have several gratitude journals going — one is a physical journal in a leather binder, another I keep on my phone, another in a Google Doc, and finally one in a big glass jar, where I drop notes from time to time. I used to combine all of the items in them into my primary leather journal, but over time I end up having several journals going — again — so I just no longer bother with the consolidation.
At any rate, the thoughts in those journals, which range from the mundane (I’m grateful for the smile from the barista at my favorite cafe today) to the profound (I’m grateful for having a life that has afforded me the chance to live in relative splendor), are just for my eyes… thus, there’s no real need to keep them in one place anyway.
The following story is one reason — and a big one — I write daily in my gratitude journal.
My great college friend (I’ll call him J) and his wife (I’ll call her P) have been married for 40 or so years, and they have three grown children, all in their 30s. For the past several years, J and P have been hoping for their first grandchild, but there’s been a birthing drought in their offspring which seems like since forever.
Until earlier this year, when J and P learned they would become grandparents for the first time, and the baby would be born around Christmas time. They were, well, they were ecstatic.
However, a couple of months ago they learned that the baby has a severe heart defect, and his future was clearly uncertain. Baby J was born a few days ago, and indeed, does have a very rare heart condition that will require immediate open-heart surgery.
The surgery will take place in a few days, just a week or so after birth, and the doctors, parents, family, and friends are all optimistic, but the recovery time will be lengthy and arduous. I simply can’t imagine what that must feel like — to know that your little newborn will have to undergo such a thing.
Nancy and I are thinking about them constantly (we are not nearby) and Nancy prays and does a lot of spiritual work for the baby. I don’t pray, but I do write. We, too, are optimistic.
It’s times like these when I do my deepest thinking about my own life, and about the lives of those closest to me. And, it’s also times like these when my gratitude journal gets its biggest workout. Sadness and tragedy make me realize how fortunate I am, and for all that I have.
You have all things when you cease expecting. ~Author unknown, perhaps The Buddha.
That’s why I write in my gratitude journal.
Do you have a gratitude journal and how do you use yours?