This Journal post is modeled from a lesson taken from Rawness of Remembering: Restorative Journaling Through Difficult Times. For more information about Rawness of Remembering, please check out http://www.esmewang.com/rawness today.
In general, the ever-popular gratitude list has tended to not work for me. If listing the things that you’re grateful for on a daily basis is something that you practice and feel good about doing, by all means: CONTINUE DOING IT. However, today I’m going to share something that I’ve found useful, and is a bit of a variation on the standard gratitude list.
The reason that the gratitude list is difficult for me, especially during difficult times, is that 1.) it’s very hard for me to feel grateful for anything when I’m depressed, in extreme physical pain, or otherwise suffering, and 2.) creating a gratitude list then makes me feel guilty for not being happy about all of the wonderful things that I have in life, of which there are many.
These days, I’ve been keeping something that’s not a gratitude list. I call it a Things I Did Today list.
This is what the Things I Did Today List looks like:
Today I did _________, and it accomplished ____________.
Rinse, lather, repeat.
Here’s why I like this exercise:
- Instead of a gratitude list, which tends to be focused outwardly upon the world’s bounty, the Things I Did Today list reflects yourself and the things that you’ve accomplished.
- The Things I Did Today list is concrete and factually based. I may be grateful for love, but sometimes I don’t feel that love, even if I know that I am, in fact, loved. Intellectually recognizing that I “should be” grateful for having a roof over my head can, in fact, backfire; if I’m feeling terrible, not feeling a gut-level gratitude for things that I know I should rejoice in often makes me feel worse. On the other hand, the Things I Did Today List is a useful tool for me because it’s a bit more difficult to argue with.
- The prompt for the list is extremely simple, and can range from incredibly small things to larger things. Examples: “Today I brushed my teeth, and it accomplished a day’s worth of hygiene.” “Today I talked my friend through a problem, and it accomplished her feeling better about her breakup.” “Today I fed the dog three times, and it accomplished her having food in her belly for the day.” “Today I put up a blog post, and it accomplished my having written something when I hadn’t written anything in days.”
- In difficult times, I tend to lose any sense of what’s happened in any given day; by the end of the day, I often feel as though it’s been a complete waste–as though I haven’t done a single worthwhile thing all day. Keeping an actual record of things I have, in fact, done reminds me that such a belief is often not true, even if all I did was empty the dishwasher, feed the dog, and take a very long nap.
Do you think you’ll give the Things I Did Today list a go? Let me know in the comments.
Find out more about Rawness of Remembering here.