Gratitude journals are not new, but they are still a practice I find very helpful for myself and my clients. And there are so many different ways to use them. Traditionally they are a daily log of what good things have happened for us that day. It is a way of capturing all the good and reminding our self of what is going well in our lives. Helping us to not let the negative bias of our brain drown out all of the good that has been going on. I was thinking wouldn’t it be nice to take this concept and use it for “relationship building”. So I have chosen this forum to focus on Gratitude Journals that Build Relationships.
Keeping a “Relationship Gratitude Journal”
Relationships thrive on compliments, gratitude and appreciation. The outside world can deal us disappointment and upset at times. When our relationships are filled with the good it is so much easier to get our balance and feel better. And when we feel good about ourselves and our loved ones we feel more inclined to put more into our relationship to keep it strong and well. Gratitude builds good feelings and that is an essential part of a healthy relationship – feeling positive feelings, which leads to feeling connected.
- You will be writing about what you appreciate or feel thankful for in regard to your loved one. This could be your husband, your significant other, your daughter or son. You will need to decide who you want to focus on.
- Focusing on specific actions and using detailed description of what it is they did or said or didn’t say, etc is most helpful. For example: “I was so grateful when John started supper when I came home late from work.” OR “I loved it when Susan took time to listen to me about . . . even though I know she was busy with . . . “
- Be expansive and try to broaden out what you see and hear from your loved one to help illuminate all the parts you see and are grateful for. Try to write about different things that you see. It is ok to duplicate, but try to think of all the different things that are there to appreciate. Being specific with the specific day or the specific week will help to be more expansive.
- Ideally this would be a joint project, in which both of you are doing your own gratitude journal.
How to Create YOUR Gratitude Journal that Builds Your Relationship:
- Find a journal that you really like and will draw you to use it every day. Of course any note-book or pad of paper will work. So don’t let not having a “perfect” journal get in the way of keeping a Relationship Gratitude Journal. But if possible find a journal that really calls to you.
- Design a plan of action as to how you will do YOUR Relationship Journal.
- Who am I going to focus on? My husband or partner? My children? My entire family?
- How often do I want to record my feelings in my gratitude journal? Daily? Weekly?
- Will I choose a specific number of entries I strive for or will it be completely open-ended?
- Will both of us keep a gratitude journal? Is this a joint endeavor or is this just an individual project?
- When and where will you share your gratitude feelings? Daily or Weekly?
Gratitude Journals in ACTION:
Sharing your journal entries with each other OR you only sharing your entry with your loved one is putting this “Gratitude Journal” into ACTION. This takes a gratitude journal to a whole new level. Not only do you feel the wonderful feeling of gratitude but your loved one does as well. So you are now building relationship and connection. This is a bit of a different twist than a traditional gratitude journal. This is expanding and sharing the wonderful appreciative feelings you have discovered.
Again it is ideal to both be sharing your feelings of gratitude. But you can start with just one of you, if one is not able to do this or not wanting to do this. Any feelings of gratitude that are shared are helpful and build a sense of love and connection. Gratitude = Connection.