Everywhere I turn, I see people pushing me to “write down 3 things you’re grateful for every day”. Bullet journal vloggers, self-help books, lifestyle gurus, they all espouse how powerful it is. You’re supposed to keep a gratitude journal, or at least include it in your regular journaling practice. To be honest, I’ve always found it a little bit silly and incredibly forced.

What bothers me isn’t the notion of being grateful. It’s doing so just to check a box. If I have to sit down and think of 3 things that I’m grateful for, am I actually grateful? A quota can be easily met with insincerity. There’s something about it that makes me think of a little kid saying their bedtime prayers, and praying not for things they’re really concerned about, but what the adult within earshot wants to hear.

Write Down 3 Things You’re Grateful For

Here’s how I made it work for me: In the evening I review my journal, and fill in things that I’ve done throughout the day. This is already a time where I pause and reflect on how things went. I take note of what went well, what didn’t, and why. I’m more of a “yay, this worked” kind of a person. Or, alternately, a “that failed, but I learned something and yay, I know how to fix it” person.

During my review I take out a highlighter — pink, in this case, because I’m not already using it to color-code anything — and highlight the things I’m grateful for. If it’s self-explanatory, I leave it be. Anything that needs clarification, like what specifically I’m grateful for, and why, gets written into the journal.

I don’t hold myself to 3. If I find one thing that was especially impactful, then that might be the only one for the day. When I’m fortunate enough to have a dozen things happen in a day that I’m grateful for, then it’s a dozen. It might be zero — and that’s okay. I’ll explore why landed on that, either because it was legitimately a crappy day, or because I’m not in a frame of mind to appreciate anything. But it’s never fake, it’s never forced, and it never fails to be useful.

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