How to start a family gratitude journal

Negativity can invade our families and drag us down. Teaching children to recognize goodness in all its great and small forms is important for their outlook.

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  • At some point in my career as a mother, I grew weary of hearing "Why can't," and the "It's not fair," and "I wish I could," from my children. I needed to teach them to open their eyes to what was right and good in their lives. So, one evening, I brought out a beautiful journal and had them each add something good that had happened in their day. There were a few "hmmmppphhhs" and some whines, but eventually they were all able to come up with something worthwhile.

  • I told them it would be available to them anytime to write anything good that happened to them. I placed it on the coffee table and something remarkable happened. (Well, okay, it didn't exactly take off like that.) My husband and I were the only ones who picked it up and wrote in it. (At least that's what I thought.) I would periodically pick the book up and read what he and I wrote. Our gratitude for our family. A sunset. Our faith.

  • Miraculously, a few weeks later there was another entry. And then another. One by one, the kids were catching on to the idea of contributing. The messages were brief, but heartfelt.

  • "I'm thankful I got an 'A' on my math test."

  • "The world is pretty in spring."

  • "Someone took out my trash for me."

  • Little by little, the book gained popularity and when someone was in a bad mood, they picked up the book and read good things instead of dwelling on the bad.

  • Start your own Family Gratitude Journal and see where it takes you.

  • Buy a good quality journal

  • This is an investment. You don't have to spend a lot, just buy one with acid-free paper to last.

  • Have a meeting to explain the concept

  • Don't come down on or bring up the negative. Just present the journal and let your family know it is there for them to use.

  • Lay the ground rules

  • Let your kids know that this is not a joke or a place to write anything negative. The journal is only to share the joy.

  • Give your family some ideas

  • Let the family know that this isn't only for monumental occasions like birthdays, graduations or anniversaries. It is also for beautiful sunsets, small random acts of kindness, a pretty flower or any of God's other amazing creations. It is for expressing love and gratitude for one another and for all the blessings great and small.

  • Encourage everyone to write

  • If any members of your family come and share good news with you, encourage them to put it into the book and share how they feel about it.

  • Encourage your family to read it

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  • When someone is down, persuade them to sit down and read some things in the book, particularly things they have written so that they can see and recall the good things surrounding them.

  • Keep it in a central location

  • Keep it in a common area of the house, but one that doesn't have a lot of commotion so there is privacy to write down thoughts. Let family know to write in the book where it is and not to carry it off somewhere. That way it will always be found.

  • Keep it in good shape

  • This is a book that can be passed down to other generations. Encourage your children to start their own when they leave home and especially when they start their own families. Books can be scanned and printed for all family members to keep a copy as they leave home.

  • The effect this journal had on my family was a little more recognition of good and a little less whining and attention given to the negative. There are so many things around us that go unnoticed because we are buried in drama and whining. We need to seek out the good, beautiful, kind and wonderful and the family gratitude journal is a place to start.

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Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom.

Website: http://www.beckytheauthor.weebly.com

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