Since high school, I’ve had several journals chronicling the ups and downs of my life. I wrote about good times with my loved ones, my academic and personal accomplishments, my struggles with self-esteem and even my thoughts on current issues. I also shared my deepest feelings about what was happening with and around me. When things were going well in my life, I’d share it in my journal. Whenever I was angry or upset at someone, I’d purge my anger into my journal instead of confronting the person. Journaling helped me savor the big moments and cope with stressful times. It kept my deepest darkest secrets along with my wildest daydreams about the future. But if you’d read my past entries, most were focused on the not-so-happy events in my life. Pages dwelled on lost opportunities, personal letdowns and latent pain.
A few years ago, a non-fiction paperback significantly changed the way I write and perhaps, the way I live too.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Count your blessings” many times before. I’ve also heard this line countless times that I dismiss it as a go-to phrase when someone feels down or complains a lot about his or her life. “Oh I’m so unlucky, my phone got snatched” — Count your blessings!At least you weren’t hurt. “My crush didn’t notice me today”— Count your b;essings! At least you saw him today.Something along these lines kinda consoles someone in an unlucky or unpleasant situation.
However, this common piece of advice became a lot more meaningful when I skimmed through a book on happiness at a local bookstore. The book expounded on easy but scientific ways to increase our level of personal happiness. In short, it cites proven ways we can all be happier. One of the ways mentioned was to count one’s blessings, literally.
A Harvard study was made on people who wrote 5 things that they were grateful for. Everyday, they wrote them on a notebook before going to bed. Just five things. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a big thing like getting a promotion or something ordinary like getting a bus ride home. What mattered was they were appreciative of those things. They found out that these people became happier over time.
This is why I decided to change my journal into something more positive: a gratitude journal. I chose a colorful hardbound journal with animal figures. The cover has this bible verse “In everything, give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you ( 1 Thessalonians 5:18)” I thought it was fitting for its purpose which was to highlight the blessings I receive.Simply put, I also wanted to count my blessings.
I’ve had this journal for about four years. I was actually aiming for a daily count but life got in the way. Before I went to bed, I’d write the good things I remember for that day. At first, I wrote about them like I was telling a story. I got to end the day on a positive note because I relived these moments in my mind. However, as time passed and things got busier, I just numbered them and would try to write as often as I could.These days, when I don’t get to write, we include them in our evening prayer as a family.
I love having a gratitude journal because allows me to reflect on the joyful and memorable moments instead of the negative ones. I think it has been helpful because in a way, I’m training my mind to look past what went wrong and focus on the things that went well. And I can honestly say, it has made me a happier and more mindful person. There are still stressful experiences but I think they don’t stick to my psyche as much.
If I were to print my own diary, I think this would definitely be a feel good and interesting memoir. It’d be a hodgepodge of quirky to poignant moments from laughing out loud with friends to having a baby. These written records would definitely be something people could enjoy reading over and over again.In my case, I’d get to enjoy these experiences once again when I read them.
At this point, let’s get a bit personal. I’d like to share a few moments from a day in 2013, when I was still single and teaching English to Japanese students.
I am thankful for:
1. oil control powder film given by a student, it was from Kyoto
2. another student also gave me a Meiji chocolate bar
3. my student liked my remembrance which was a hardbound notebook
4. had a bonding moment with co teachers , we ate at Adobo Connection and Pizza Volante
5. drank a glass of banana milk shake! yummy! 🙂
6. my hon waited for me to get home before calling good night <3
7. someone complimented me on my blazer
As you can see, these are just simple random ordinary things. Of course, my hon waiting for me is something sweet and special. These moments pass by quickly and we need to take notice before they are gone. In life, the small things are the big things. Our keen ability to recognize and appreciate the blessings we receive can have a significant impact on whether we see the glass half full or half empty. Quite possibly, the glass is already full of blessings just waiting to be tallied in your dear diary.