My Gratitude Journal Taught Me I am a Food-Obsessed, Greedy Cheater Who Still Loves Life. ~ Jayleigh Lewis

Via on Nov 14, 2012
Photo: Tom Kelly

Keeping a gratitude journal is easy, right?

You spend five minutes once a day writing down what you’re grateful for. You start to realize how much you have and because you already feel rich, more good things flow into your life.

Simple.

Or is it? I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for the past year and a half and have learned some unexpected things about myself.

Here are five things you might start to learn if you take up gratitude journaling:

1. You are going to learn what you really, really like, because you are going to be writing about it constantly.

I really, really like food. Nearly every day, my gratitude journal includes at least one description of how much I like goat cheese or how I’m grateful I can eat honey by the spoonful straight from the jar. I did not know this about myself before I started gratitude journaling—why do I still eat gross fast food crap when I love the good stuff so much? Learning what makes you happy can take your blinders off and help you see where you are choosing less than the best for yourself.

2. You are going to learn just how acquisitive you can be, even for the intangible.

Sometimes I feel like the person with a huge sticker or stamp collection (does anyone collect those anymore?), always greedy for more and territorial about what I have. Not only do I record what I am grateful for, I make damn sure I include every last moment from my day that felt good or nourishing. Collect them all, right? If I don’t write it, I can’t prove that I noticed it and am therefore a good little gratitude journal writer. But really, the excessive pressure I put on myself here doesn’t feel good and I am learning that gratitude doesn’t have to be a contest I have with myself. There’s no one to beat, remember?

3. You are going to learn what does and doesn’t motivate you to keep a commitment to yourself.

I’ve told myself on many nights, falling into bed, that I’m just too tired for gratitude. Sometimes I make it up to myself by writing in the morning…and sometimes I let it slide. And sometimes, I pull myself out of bed, five minutes after I’ve turned the light off and make myself write. If it’s too easy to justify the bargains you make with yourself, you’re probably cheating yourself.

4. You are going to learn what you do when the bright side of things is just a slightly less dingy version of the dark side.

One evening, as I was making dinner after a tough day, I accidentally spilled half of my pasta into the sink as I was draining the water out of the pot. I hadn’t cleaned my sink in a long time—there went my dinner into a black hole of grime! I still had to think of something to write in my gratitude journal for that day, so I wrote that I was grateful that I hadn’t spilled my whole dinner into the sink. I was actually able to lighten up after that and now I laugh every time I go back and read that entry.

5. You are going to learn that you really, truly are rich.

I have clean running water. I have a roof over my head. I have electricity. I have people who love me. I’m doing pretty well. I may not have a clue how my life is going to turn out or how I am going to get out of the cramped box my fixed ideas about myself have put me in (although I keep exploring the limits of that box) but my life is not without grace.

We’re all told at some point that we should be grateful for these simple things. It can feel like a trick to make us stop our complaining and be grateful we don’t have it worse than we do, completely ignoring the very real pains and disappointments we all experience regularly.

I have found, though, that using my gratitude journal to help me pay attention to what would otherwise be unacknowledged background noise in my life opens my eyes and shifts my perspective. I start to see more clearly that I did nothing to be born into the place in the world I occupy and I enjoy many unearned privileges, every day.

Instead of feeling guilty about this, I feel deeply responsible to life.

So, even if I am a food-obsessed, greedy, inconsistently motivated, darkly-humored gratitude journal writer, I have learned a lot about living through my practice.

Want to start your own?

 

Jayleigh Lewis is a writer who will one day write a book. She currently works as a spiritual advisor to college students as well as a freelance editor. She has a dream that one day humans will remember the integral role ceremony has in our lives and will learn to create sacred spaces within which intention may manifest. Learn more about her dream and read more of her words on her blog.

~

Ed: Bryonie Wise

Like elephant I’m not “Spiritual.” I just practice being a good person on Facebook.

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13 Responses to “My Gratitude Journal Taught Me I am a Food-Obsessed, Greedy Cheater Who Still Loves Life. ~ Jayleigh Lewis”

  1. Harmkny says:

    I loved this! Thanks for writing and sharing!

  2. Kate Southward says:

    This is great, I really enjoy your writing.. clever. I am ad hock with the gratitude journal, you've inspired me to keep it going day to day for a few months and see what results. Thank you! xx

  3. edieyoga says:

    thanks jayleigh…loved it, really.

  4. Serpentessa says:

    Great to read this while bathing my Snakess and having that gratefully tired feeling I enjoy after sharing their teachings. But it's # 3 that I most resonated with as I often find it difficult to remain motivated in the business aspects of being a Snake priestess. So when tomorrow comes and I'm at my desk I'm gonna try harnessing tonight's feeling rather than cheating myself. Thanksss for these insights! xoSss~~~<

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  6. Tadasana says:

    loved this, made me chuckle too. Tadasana

  7. Mariza says:

    amazed at the clarity of thought and open heart share here J…eager to see what else comes out of you!!! I am relating with all of it right now…maybe gratitude journal is coming for me…last night, I just said I don't know what life is about…I feel once I did that…I could see more clearly what I was personally grateful for…that yes, I have so much grace in this life so much I did not have to suffer to have. Thank you…

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  9. Dawn Herring says:

    Jayleigh,
    It's amazing to me how our gratitude, especially when written down, can show us so much about ourselves and what matters to us. Plus it can help us gain a sense of balance, clarity of what's really important, and enables us to laugh even at the tough stuff (like pasta in the sink!)

    I have chosen your post, My Gratitude Journal Taught Me I am a Food-Obsessed, Greedy Cheater Who Still Loves Life, for the #JournalChat Pick of the Day on 11/26/12 for all things journaling on Twitter;
    I will post a link on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, my blog and website Refresh with Dawn Herring, and in my weekly Refresh Journal: http://tinyurl.com/bjc5szg.

    #JournalChat Live is every Thursday, 5 EST/2 PST, for all things journaling on Twitter; our topic this week is Your Journaling: Your Best Day.

    I love your forthright gratitude journaling experience!

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child

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