Today I am taking a hint from Nancy Day and passing along or curating some advice!  See, I recently read an article from about keeping an MS Gratitude Journal.  That idea really intrigued me because i have kept gratitude journals in the past and found them to be helpful for keeping my priorities straight.

The article talks about many of the mental health benefits of thinking about things to be grateful for in spite of MS as well as the benefits of journaling in general. MSpals offers many opportunities to vent which is one of the big ways that journaling helps us.  With MSpals there is always someone who will listen to you and not belittle your difficulties.  The article says that sharing your feeling helps “cope with stress, better your cognitive abilities, and improve your mental and physical health.”  This is the case whether you are keeping a private journal or posting in a forum.

What the article doesn’t address is how to best keep a gratitude journal.  I aim to correct that!

Typically a gratitude journal is an ongoing collection of lists of daily things that you are grateful for in your life.  Usually it is suggested that one list 5 things each day.  They can be seemingly small or of great magnitude.  The main point is that the things you list have to have made some impact in your life that will be memorable when you read over your lists in years to come!

I have found that waiting until the end of the day to come up with a list of things.  Some people find that it prompts a sort of meditative time to set aside a specific period to try to come up with a list.  If you suffer with a horrible short-term memory (like me), it may be best to document your gratitude as it happens.

This means that you may not have an actual journal with you at the moment of impact.  Since this is also a way to document portions of your life, you can do it however you want.  There are very fancy journals that you can buy if you want to make this a special thing.   There are even specific journals just for keeping gratitudes.  Of course legal pads or notebook paper and a folder also work.  I think it is good to have a book, clipboard or folder dedicated to journaling just to keep things somewhat organized.  I also think it is important to keep a pen that your like to write with handy.  In fact, I think it is a great idea to keep several pens scattered all over and to make sure that you always have one with you.

For the actual journal, I am more of a chronicler.  I think it is important to include as many details that support that event as it is to include the event itself.  If you decide to list your gratitudes as they occur maybe you can write them on a scrap of paper that is significant to what you are grateful for.  Did you get a nice letter from a friend?  Don’t throw out that envelope! Was your utility bill extremely low for once?  There is probably some blank space on it that you can write on.  Collecting memorabilia with your gratitudes may makes this a little more special.

The main point with this exercise is to be grateful!  Realize that even when your life is the pits there is something that makes it a little better than it could be.  Definitely recognize your hardships, because just dealing with them can be heroic, but don’t dwell on the downers to the exclusion of the positives of just being alive.

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