Writing Through Gratitude: What it Means 6

A FRIEND recently told me that she keeps a journal only during the tough times and that she finds it difficult to write when everything seems to be going well. And she’s not the first person to have told me that.

I’ve noticed that when things are difficult, we’ll write the things we can’t find the courage to talk about. But when we’re happy, we lose the sense of urgency that needing to resolve problems creates, and we lose motivation to write.

This website is named Writing Through Life because that is exactly what I propose doing — this means writing through all the times, positive and negative, that we experience. So how do we stay committed, inspired, and motivated to write even when things are going well?

We can write through our gratitude. It’s easy, too. All we have to do is begin by making a list of things for which we’re grateful in that moment. The list doesn’t have to be grand and inclusive; it can contain simple things (mine often does), such as hot coffee, paper to write on, an ample supply of pens, a cool breeze on a hot day. It can also contain the “larger” things in life: the love of our family, physical health, the ability to walk, relative prosperity, etc.

Once you’ve created a list, you can use each item on the list as the basis of a writing prompt, using the following format:

I am grateful for ________ because …

Then expand that sentence and the thoughts it brings with it.

Example: I am grateful for my new mattress because it eases the chronic sciatic pain I used to experience. I get a better night’s sleep which helps me to be a better person to those around me. It’s interesting, how a thing like sleep makes such a difference in my disposition. And it helps me to understand that sometimes people aren’t grumpy by disposition but by pain or lack of sleep. I think about all the ways I have judged others — and myself — in the past for not being kind or gentle enough. Maybe all we really needed was a good night’s sleep.  …

Well, you get the picture
. Now, it’s your turn. What are you grateful for, and how does that thing or person or feeling affect your life? And how do you feel after writing about it?

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6 thoughts on “Writing Through Gratitude: What it Means

  • Sharon Lippincott

    I used to journal during tough times or top-of-the-mountain times, so for much of my life any surviving journal entries sound as if I’m bipolar! Now I’m a regular journaler and seldom skip more than one or two days a week. If nothing else, I comment on what’s happening, and I’ll always include something I’m grateful for.

    I”m also spending lots more time thinking with my fingers about new ideas and insights as I listen to podcasts and interviews, ideas for things to write, delicious descriptions … my journal is becoming an integral part of my write brain.

  • Amber Lea Starfire

    Sharon, thank you for commenting. I know what you mean about a journal making you seem bipolar when you write only during the difficult times. My old journals make me seem like a whiner. Like you, since writing has become a daily activity, it provides a space to record my story, work out problems and issues, interpret dreams, make plans, have discussions with myself, and be grateful for all the wonderful things in my life. Writing is a healing tool and a craft-of-writing tool, where I can play and try out new things.

    And by the way, I love “write brain”!

  • Mel Braun

    This is an area that should be easy for me. I am a generally thankful/grateful person. But I can’t seem to write optomistically without hating it. I think my upbeat writing is corny and trite. I’m going to try it again, with more serious intent. This writing challenge will be challenging, for sure.

  • Amber Lea Starfire

    Mel, thanks for the comment. It’s okay to be corny and trite. After all, you’re just writing for yourself, right? Writing gratitude lifts the spirits and reminds us how lucky we really are. Let your inner critic take a break; tell her to go have lunch or something, while you write your heart out.