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Put your thanks on paper

Journaling has been an on-again, off-again endeavor for most of my life. I’ve kept paper diaries and online blogs, and social media serves as its own kind of journaling.

It’s fun looking back at my childhood diary. It mostly consisted of who I played with at recess and whether we jumped rope or practiced flips on the monkey bars that day.

As an adult, there are lots of things I could — and probably should — be writing about. I may not journal every challenge or joy, but I do tend to post about them on social media, and that means I’ll see them again in my “on this day” notifications in the future.

Online journaling is great, but there’s just something about putting pen to paper that seems more real to me. I have no idea how social media will evolve, or what will happen to everyone’s posts.

There’s a real possibility, however, that my future grandchildren or great-grandchildren might come across my paper journals.

What do I want them to read? What do I want to say? The question of what to write is enough to turn off many people to the idea of journaling. This is where a gratitude journal comes in. What if, instead of logging what you eat, which shows you watch on television, or who you play with at recess, you name three things for which you are grateful each day? How would your outlook change?

There may be days when it’s hard to come up with three things. Just write one. There may be days when you can’t name even one. Those are the days when your gratitude journal is the most important. If you can’t find gratitude, flip through the pages of your journal to remember the beautiful things in life.

January 14: Snow that glistens like diamonds, hot coffee with lots of creamer, and a cozy home.

March 11: The first calves of the year were born, the sun is shining, and it feels like spring.

June 16: The cancer is in remission.

September 3: Our children are healthy and happy. They have never gone hungry.

December 11: The boys are home from college for Christmas.

I challenge you to write a gratitude journal. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to start. Use a blank leather-bound volume, a spiral notebook, or note cards and a recipe box. If you prefer digital journaling, use your phone. The medium doesn’t matter; the gratitude does.

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