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One of my favorite Christmas gifts I received was from a new friend. She’s something of a paper/pen/journal nut, and she made me a gratitude journal. It is essentially 12 grocery-list sized pieces of nice card stock held together with an o-ring. Each page is headed with a month and numbered.

It’s a gratitude journal, she told me. Each day, no matter how shitty the day, I write something I’m grateful for.

Oh look, another weekend note (see list below)

Oh look, another weekend note (see list below)

I thought the fact that I’m allotted such a small amount of space would irritate me, that I’d be inclined to detail the good things I choose to note each day. Instead, I find I like that I don’t feel compelled to actually journal each night. This is a glorified list, but one with a lot more meaning than “milk, avocados, whiskey.”

I filled out every day in January except the 4th, when I plumb forgot. I gave it a looksie, curious if a common theme emerged, and I found a number of commonalities. Here are the most frequent topics:

  • Friends/family (8): new friends, my ridiculously supportive husband
  • Reading/writing (6): My Atlantic subscription, writers’ retreat, finishing a good book
  • Me (4): My creative side, healthy hair
  • Weekends (4): five-day weekends, Fridays after work

They’re not all deep and meaningful, but that doesn’t make them any less important for a happy life.

There are reasons to be grateful all around. I don’t often have bad days, but when I do, it’s nice to have a little bound list of all the reasons I have to feel loved.

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