I can’t remember how exactly I started journaling. I had read about different high-level performers taking part in the writing exercise called Morning Pages. I had also learned from someone who read the book, The Magic about recording gratefulness daily. It’s not an exercise I can attribute to external influences.
I downloaded the app, Journey and decided I was going to highlight that which I was grateful for daily. The reason I chose Journey was that it allowed me to mark my journal to calendar days and set daily reminders. This is a key advantage to writing in a notepad. I started in mid-November and I have noticed something interesting.
I remember back then things had been quite challenging for me. I had spent a lot of my savings on various fixes. I was also in the stressful phase of looking for a good house in Lagos. I noticed that most of my year had been full of complaints. It was beginning to irritate me too. I decided to take the bold step of highlighting daily what I was grateful for.
It’s been so amazing to notice that everyday has been a win for me. I have had really good days EVERY DAY — even when it comes with stress, uncertainties and sometimes bad news.
I have gathered why this works and here it is: naturally, we were built to remember negative experiences more vividly than the positive. This is some self-preservation feature of humans/animals. When you remember bad experiences, you somehow remember to avoid them and so save your life next time. This would have been more useful if we lived in cave times. Keeping bad experiences in mind worked because that would mean never forgetting unfavorable situations. In the age we are in now, that self-preservation feature is not as relevant. What starts off as being retention and rumination of bad daily experiences would eventually lead to more stress, sickness and unhappiness. Meanwhile, there sometimes are way more memorable positive daily experiences that we face that our negativity swallows.
Keeping a gratitude journal opened my eyes to this fact. I have noticed that every day for me has been amazing. Not just on the surface level, but really amazing. I won’t say I don’t have moments in the day that have gotten me unhappy, disappointed or angered. No! But I can openly say there are positive experiences that are totally worth gratitude for the day in its entirety.