Gratitude Journaling
Gratitude Journaling


When Your Gratitude Practice Falls Flat

Canada In Reflection Health

Research has convincingly shown that people who have an attitude of gratitude are both happier and healthier.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc with everyone’s mental health in the last two years. The mortality rates, even in Canada, have been shocking, especially in retirement homes. So, it is not surprising that depression and suicides have risen significantly. Nobody has been unaffected no matter how positive or optimistic they may typically be.

For quite a long time, I have been using a daily journal to write about the things that have happened to me during the day that I feel grateful for. Looking back at my journal entries, I found a lot of repetition and not much depth to my expressions of gratitude. In truth, it has seemed a rather ineffective exercise, even though I have been journaling for many weeks now.

Recently, I woke up during the night and felt anxious for no apparent reason. I struggled to get back to sleep. It was then that I spontaneously started mentally picturing the many things I was grateful for.

In no particular order, here are three of those things:

  • Working as a mentee on a pro bono basis, as part of Futurpreneur, with a young man from Brazil. The relationship is particularly rewarding because he is executing his entrepreneurial endeavour with great skill and success.
  • I am extremely grateful to my daughter Emma for her amazing insight and guidance, and for collaborating with me on both my book project and my new blog. It’s also helped me on my journey to help improve my writing skills.
  • Also, as part of my memoir writing project, I’ve had the great joy of being able to reconnect with past clients and old friends from as far back as 50 years ago!

The list above is just a fraction of what I feel grateful for. I really enjoyed taking the time to reflect on these experiences and to marvel at the depth and variety of things I feel grateful for. This process lasted, I am guessing, about 30 minutes. It made me feel relaxed enough that I was able to peacefully drift off to sleep.

Suffice to say, I have an abundance of things to be grateful for—I had simply taken them for granted.

Having personally experienced the power of gratitude in the middle of the night, I suggest you to explore what you feel grateful for through journaling or by simply pausing during the day to ponder the gifts in your life. Let this also be a reminder to let others know we appreciate whatever help they have given us as we go through the inevitable ups and downs of life. Maybe it’s time to give journaling another try?

Want to learn more about gratitude? Read how “Giving thanks can make you happier” from Harvard Health Publishing.

Essential Gratitude

Sometimes it just stuns you
like an arrow flung from some angel’s wing.
Sometimes it hastily scribbles
a list in the air: black coffee,
thick new books,
your pillow’s cool underside,
the quirky family you married into.

It is content with so little really;
even the ink of your pen along
the watery lines of your dimestore notebook
could be a swiftly moving prayer.

~Andrea Potos via How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope by James Crews