MIND / Happiness: Writing down your gratitude

29 March 2017

How do you think about life? Do you often show gratitude for the little things around you? For a lot of people it’s sometimes difficult to look at the bright side of life. I’m no different. That’s why I often write down my gratitude in a diary. Just to realize that life in fact can be really awesome.

Ok, I’ll have to admit. I am by far a good example of a person who’s always positive and grateful. I am born with a little sense of negativity. Not really in a bad way I have to say. I barely look negative towards the future and in general I’m a really happy person, but I do sometimes have my ups and downs in life, like anyone else. At this moment I feel absolutely happy, but if I go back in time for roughly two years, I would never have said that. At the same moment I am pretty sure future will bring me some rough periods in life. But you know, that’s what life is about anyway.

The little things in life

Let’s be honest: how positive are you exactly? With what kind of glasses are you looking at your life? I am not talking about life in its entirety, but especially the little things in life. That’s what I’m sometimes struggling with, showing gratitude for the little things. Being positive about them. Shoot, it’s raining today. And the next day it’s way too hot. Two days filled with complaining. But I can say to myself that I can look differently to these situations. I can be happy that it’s raining, because it’s good for our stunning nature. I can be happy with the warm weather, because frozen toes are not the funniest to have. Simply looking to the little things in life, to live your life with more positivity. You have such a good Dutch word for it: #omdenken. You might have heard of it.

Showing gratitude

At the moment you start to look at the bright side of life, your life will be such more fun in one instant. That’s why it’s so important for me to work on it, so I can show my gratitude more, be happier and to see the good things in life daily. People often think that gratitude and luck is something that suddenly happens and that they don’t have to work on it. That it’s genetically determined who is happy and who not. Well, in a certain way it’s a bit true, I won’t deny that. But how you think, live your life and how you see the world, can have a much bigger impact on your happiness level. Showing gratitude is a good way to increase this.

Writing down your gratitude in a journal

To train myself to show gratitude, to think in a more positive way and to look differently to certain situaties, I started to keep up a gratitude journal. On a regular base I write down what my experiences are with a certain day. I have to admit that it was pretty difficult when I started. Honestly, I tried to keep up a gratitude journal already a few times, but I always stopped within a couple of days. But meanwhile it’s seven months later since I started and I am still writing, although I do it a bit differently nowadays.

dankbaarheid, gratitude

Starting my gratitude journal

When I started with my gratitude journal I wrote my gratitude down daily on basis of these three points:

A) What made me relaxed today?
B) What am I grateful for?
C) What are the three highlights of the day?

For five months I wrote about these three subjects in my gratitude journal, but I felt that something wasn’t right for me. I am hundred percent sure keeping a gratitude journal is good for everyone, but I am also convinced that everyone needs to find his own way that works. For me gratitude and highlights are synonyms in my daily life. I also noticed it was less important for me to write down what made me relaxed. That’s something I don’t really have to practice in daily life. So I decided to change my writing habits and made a new list:

A) What am I grateful for today?
B) Three things that made me happy today
C) A thing I could have done better today
D) What am I looking forward to tomorrow?
E) Tomorrows affirmation


This list suits me better. For me ‘happy’ weights a bit less than ‘highlights’. A nice cup of tea can already make me happy, but it’s not necessarily a highlight of my day. I also do a bit more about self-reflection now. Not to give a negative touch on it in the end, but I think it can’t hurt me to also write about the things I could have done better to learn from them for the next time. By writing these situations down, I can handle them better in the future. I also write down an affirmation for the next day to bend uncertain thoughts into positive ones. I can guarantee you that it works!

Writing less

Until recently I wrote daily in my gratitude journal, for seven months long. But, and this will sound really like a contradiction, it was getting too much. I started to notice that I didn’t think sincerely about my gratitude anymore. I was more busy with finishing my list daily than really think and feel about it. Every day something goods happen in life and I think it’s really inspiring when people can write down their gratitude down every day in a honest way. But when I heard it can actually work in the wrong way when you try to force yourself to write your gratitude down daily and that one till three times per week can be better (or at least with a certain regularity) for you, I decided to try that. That’s what I am doing now, and so far it works perfectly.

To keep up a gratitude journal is a good way for me to look more positive to the little things in life and life itself in all its glory. Nowadays I notice that when I experience something negative, it’s much easier to change the situation in my head and to look at it from a different point of view. And that makes life less complicated and so much more fun.


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