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A Gratitude Diary Can Change Your Life

Painting by Susannah Martin

Painting by Susannah Martin

Gratitude is medicine for the mind.
It heals your wounds and fills your voids when you’re having a bad day because it gives you an opportunity to be thankful for something in your life.

On good days it gives you an ego-check. Success brings bloated egos that make you forget the factors without which your achievements would have been impossible.

I was fifteen when my father gave me a beautiful brown, leather-bound diary with the words ‘Diary of Gratitude’ inscribed on it in gold. I’m a sucker for pretty stationery, so the diary still lies untouched in my special drawer for diaries-too-beautiful-to-use.

 

But the concept is powerful – to maintain a diary and write in it at least one thing that you are grateful for every day.

 

While that diary may remain empty, I started writing notes of gratitude on a daily basis before I went to bed and it has changed my life.

Gratitude doesn’t always have to be for the big things in life (of course, you wanted that MacBook! We know!); trivial things are equally capable of making us happy and deserve to be thanked for similarly.

Once, my gratitude note was directed at the Amazon delivery boy who brought my package with a book I’d been waiting to read two days before it was scheduled to arrive. Another time, I found myself thanking a girl I didn’t know at all but who was kind enough to share her Peanut M&Ms with me before I entered the examination hall.

These everyday notes are pockets of sunshine that will make you believe in yourself and the world around you, especially when you need it most.

After a year, if you ever feel a little low, all you’ll have to do is flip through your thank you notes to see that there are at least 365 things you are thankful for. It helps a lot!

The truth is that thanking people is a very simple activity, yet we don’t do it as many times as we should because we are so used to taking things for granted. In the course of our everyday transactions, we are faced with opportunities to thank so many people around us but we gloss over them with hollow excuses of having too much to do or being in a rush.

Gratitude needs to become a conscious habit before it can become natural and effortless.

A few weeks ago, I bought corn-on-the-cob from a girl who was working after school to support her family. Usually this would be a perfunctory exchange of goods for money without superfluous conversation. But, before leaving, I whispered an almost inaudible ‘thank-you,’ which she returned with a magical smile.

I was stunned for a second; her smiling at me seemed very ordinary, but there was something about her eyes that made me stop in my tracks. I sat down next to her on the pavement and felt strangely connected. We talked for a while, laughed a lot, and ate more corn.

Gratitude works in wonderful ways to help you establish soulful connections with the people around you and that is why I am so insistent on maintaining a gratitude diary. Even if I couldn’t/didn’t thank a person when I should have, I can remember them and keep them in my thoughts later. It gives me something to hold onto, and maybe that is all we’re looking for in today’s world: anchorage.

Written by Swastika Jajoo