Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m caught in a rut. The day to day routine of life has been getting to me. My kids have been driving me up the wall and I find myself annoyed by my own voice some days. By the time my husband comes home, all I want to do is push the kids towards him and lock myself in a room. Little things the kids do that might have been funny if I were in a better mood just come across as irritating. I haven’t liked the grumpy person that’s been taking over my life and I came to the realization the other day that I needed to do something to stop the cycle. No one else was going to be able to change my attitude.
Chances are, you’ve heard of a gratitude journal. Maybe you even have one. Or maybe you started one a while back and haven’t written in it in a while. As for me, I have one that I started a few years ago, did great for a while, stopped for a bit, picked it back up again, stopped, and the cycle continues. Over and over I’ve heard the benefits of writing down the things you’re grateful for and how it helps you become more grateful. But in my case, trying to write down 3-5 things I’m grateful for each day felt more like a chore. It felt repetitive. Even in the times that I had a whole list of things to choose from to write down, it still felt a little insincere to simply write a few words to try and convey my gratitude.
To help improve my overall attitude, I thought about picking up my gratitude journal again, but it just didn’t feel like quite the right solution, especially knowing how my attempts to maintain a gratitude journal never seemed to stick. That’s when the thought came to me that I needed to focus on joy rather than gratitude. Both are connected to each other, but I felt that by focusing on joy that I would be better able to focus on moments of my day that brought me joy. As many of you can probably agree, the days where everything is wonderful and full of happiness and joy are few and far between. Most days are just normal days with sunshine scattered throughout it. Those pieces of sunshine are what I wanted to think about. At the end of the day, I wanted to write down those moments that brought me joy.
When I was at the store earlier this week, I happened to pass by a little aisle stand that had some journals on it. One that caught my eye said “Make something good today”. I picked it up and put it in my cart. That night before climbing into bed, I wrote a little paragraph on the first page about the purpose of the journal and what I hoped to gain from it. Earlier that day, I’d found a quote that said, “It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” I knew that if I could commit myself to writing at least three things each day that brought me joy and why I was thankful for those things, that eventually I would feel more gratitude and my overall attitude would improve.
I’m only on day 3 of writing in my joy journal, but I can already tell that it’s making a difference. By treating each moment of joy as a separate experience in the day, I can basically write a mini-story about each joyful moment. This is so much more effective for me than simply writing a list of what I’m grateful for. I get to share a piece of my day with a focus on joy, which in turn, makes me feel more grateful. Additionally, I’m either looking for joyful things during the day to include in my joy journal, or I make an effort to create joy so that I have something to write about.
So why should you start a joy journal? Or maybe the better question is, what do you have to lose by starting a joy journal? I don’t care who you are, you will have days, weeks, months or maybe even longer when life just isn’t going the way you wanted or hoped it would. The only thing you have control over is your attitude and what you choose to focus on.
I encourage you to take a few minutes at some point during your day and just pause. Think about what has brought you joy and write it down. Write it in a journal. Send someone a card or leave a note. Write down and record the joy and on the days when you need a little boost, go back to the things you’ve written down and read them. Take a step back from whatever hard thing you are facing and remember the joy. Use it to encourage and uplift you and those around you. Joy is meant to be shared. And don’t we all need a little more joy in our lives?