Keeping A Gratitude Journal Can Change Your Perspective

And How It Has Changed Mine For the Better

woman writing a journal
The video below was filmed in Toronto in April of 2012 when my girlfriends and I were a part of a crowd of over 8,500 attending Oprah's Lifeclass.  Check out the video below shot by my friend Cathy as Oprah came down into the crowd and shook our hands!

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are, the more you get.”

— Oprah Winfrey

Years ago when I heard others speaking of the impact that gratitude had made in their lives, I inwardly rolled my eyes.  It was one thing to hear Oprah explain the transformative power of her own gratitude journal to an audience of millions, and quite another to receive personal recommendations to start a one myself and/or read Simple Abundance. Personal recommendations made me suspicious. What were the intentions behind them? Was I perceived as someone who complained too much, or wasn’t grateful for the good things in my life?

If you are reading Simple Abundance right now, you may have read about Gratitude in the January 13th meditation when Sarah BanBreathnach (SBB) identified an "inner awareness" that opened her eyes to the power of gratitude. I love how she looked at her "life’s ledger" in this reflection and the January 14th one that follows that explains the concept of The Gratitude Journal.

I have written diaries since I was a young teen, but I only started writing a gratitude journal in my thirties.  The more consistently I write them, the more positive my perspective is on life. Even on the most difficult days, in times of great loss, I am now able to look at things in a more positive light than I had previously. I consciously write down five things each day that I am grateful for and have made it a long-term habit. When I wake up each morning, I am aware that I have got to be on the look-out for five things to put in my gratitude journal each night. I used to use pretty books that my Aunt Pat gave me, but I often didn’t have it with me when I thought of writing. Days, weeks, and even months would be missed when I depended on the pretty books. Now I have a Gratitude Journal app on my phone.

Every night at 10:30 pm, I get an alert that asks me what I am grateful for.  I enter my five things, add a photo, and read an inspirational quote. It’s always with me, password protected, and it is rarely missed.  Every so often, I read through old journals to remember the bright moments of days gone by. Just as SBB writes in her January 14th reflection, some of the things I am grateful for are big, urgent things, like a loved one pulling through a risky surgery or arriving safely home through a storm. Others are for the things we all take for granted sometimes: family members sleeping peacefully, the health of our loved ones, wonderful friends, a job I love, and last but not least, the readers who have made me a writer.

“And whenever you can’t think of something to be grateful for, remember your breath. With each breath you take, you can say, ‘I am still here.’ Make each day a holiday of thankfulness—and give yourself the gift of gratitude.”

— Oprah Winfrey


Ida Mae West is a mother of two, an elementary school teacher and teacher-author at That Fun Reading Teacher.  She has taught students of all elementary school grades and abilities in her roles as a classroom, special education and Reading Recovery™ teacher. A lifelong writer, she attended The Humber School For Writers in July 2012.  Connect with Ida Mae by email.