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Over the past few years, journaling has become a popular outlet for people to reflect on their own lives. Journals are used for many reasons; to move us towards our goals, to help us unwind after a long day, or even to spot patterns in our own behaviors to help us get to know ourselves. One version of journaling that I particularly stand behind is the gratitude journal, which is used to help us take a step back and be grateful for the things in our lives. Since I have started this version of journaling, I have gained an entirely new perspective on the events of my life. 

I decided to start my gratitude journal over the summer. My roommates were gone, my job was online, and many of my friends were out of town; I was stuck alone in the house almost constantly, and the solitude took its toll on my mental health (as I’m sure it did for many others). As much as I enjoy the company of my cat, I struggled to be on my own for such a long period of time. That was when I saw something online about gratitude journals. At first, I was a little skeptical; I wasn’t sure how this thing was supposed to help me get out of my mental roadblock. However, I decided to just give it a try. Worst case scenario, all I would lose is a couple pieces of paper, right?

I was surprised to see how well the journal worked, even from day one. It didn’t fix my situation, but it allowed me to focus on the positives and reorient my perspective. Writing in a gratitude journal is such a small task—it only takes a couple of minutes a day—and, yet, it has made huge differences in the way that I view the people and things in my life. It has taught me how to stop and appreciate little things. It has reminded me that the world does not owe anything to me. And, best of all, it has allowed me to recognize and express gratitude more often, which has strengthened my relationships with many of my friends. 

If you would like to try a gratitude journal, I recommend signing up for Thnx4, which is an online project that was started by UC Berkeley to study the effects of a gratitude journal on a person’s mental health. This is a great outlet. You have the ability to create your own account, so that all of your entries will be in the same place, and you can choose whether you would like to make them private or available to the public. Furthermore, this website prompts you to think deeply about why you are grateful for things; it makes you truly understand how the people and opportunities in your life have blessed you. Lastly, when you sign up for Thnx4, you can choose either a 10 or 21 day challenge, where they will send you regular reminders to fill out your journal and track your mental health from beginning to end. This is a great way to get into the habit of filling out your journal. If you are interested, the link to the website is here: https://www.thnx4.org/

Overall, I would highly recommend this version of journaling—especially if you have been struggling with your mental health lately. It has truly helped me to change my perspective on even the most negative situations. Go ahead, try it out! Worst case scenario, all you will lose is a couple pieces of paper!

Avery Lee

NMSU '22

Computer Science as my major, writing as my hobby
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