One year, as I sat down to write my annual family Christmas letter (yes, I am one of “those people”), I was overcome with a severe case of writer’s block. It had been a difficult year and I could not motivate myself to write my usual greeting filled with joyous memoires of shared experiences and happy childhood milestones. Instead, I thought only of the loss, tragedy and isolation I felt throughout the year. Who wants to read about that?!

So I set aside my task (despite the fact that it was already December 15 and I was on a tight deadline!) and asked God to give me clarity to see my life in a more positive light. He immediately reminded me of my many blessings by exposing me to the devastation of others – husbands killed while serving their country, children stricken with terminal illness, wives battling end stage cancer, families displaced from their homes… sadly, the list is endless. There is nothing more humbling than to learn of someone who has suffered a greater loss.

You know the feeling – just when you think your life is miserable, you get an uncomfortable reminder from God that someone else has bigger problems. I call this the “It Could Be Worse” message from above.

All around me, people were losing their jobs, their lives and their hope. Yet, I was truly blessed.

When I returned to my desk to write the letter, the joy and gratitude began to flow. It poured forth as my spiritual muse reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas. I vowed to keep a Gratitude Journal the following year and record all the Little Things That Bring Me Joy. I dedicated my journal to finding Moments of Joy in Everyday Life. As an avid subscriber of the KIS philosophy (keep it simple), I decided to make a list and number each entry. I set no expectations on how often or how much I would write. But I kept the journal easily accessible, within sight, so I could jot down phrases and words as they emerged in my thoughts.

As life unfolded, I found myself recording simple pleasures, like “sleeping in!” and “listening to the sound of my children laughing.” I made note of meaningful events such as “standing in the quiet of a snow covered mountaintop” and “spending a crisp fall day hiking in the woods.” Whenever I received good news, I added it to my list. “Sue’s stress test was negative!” Or, “Patti got a job and is moving to Cape May!”

As the seasons changed, my list grew longer. It was filled with small moments of happiness. It contained all the things that remind me of what I treasure most in life. The list was more than just a Gratitude Journal. I came to think of it as my Time Capsule of Joy.

Indeed, by the next December I had documented 118 Joy-Filled Moments. Not bad, considering that I went weeks at a time without an entry. As I reviewed the list, I was reminded of the day I came home from work to find my husband vacuuming. And the time my daughter’s poem about inner beauty won first place in a school contest. Several entries were tributes to mothers who helped me in simple ways – transporting the kids to an activity while I was out of town, or taking the time to listen when I needed a friend. The pages were filled with the myriad of ways God blesses me and my family every day.

If you are feeling the need for a gentle reminder or an “It Could Be Worse” message from above, try capturing your moments of joy in a Gratitude Journal! Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Choose a beautiful journal with an inspirational photo or a soft fabric cover – something that is inviting to you.
  2. Dedicate your journal to a special intention in your heart.
  3. Set aside 10 minutes a day to write in your journal so it becomes a routine.
  4. Number the lines of your journal in advance so the empty spaces are just beckoning you to fill them in with grateful thoughts.
  5. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – just jot down your thoughts and feelings of gratitude.
  6. Keep your journal someplace that is sacred to you – somewhere quiet with no distractions.
  7. Use colored pens or markers to celebrate the joyful moments in your journal!
  8. If you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, then look outside your own heart – think of someone you know (or a stranger) who has been blessed and express your gratitude on their behalf.
  9. Write it all down. There is nothing too small or insignificant to include in your Gratitude Journal – our lives are filled with blessings in all sizes!
  10. Just keep writing! If you skip a day, a week, a month, don’t beat yourself up. Just begin with your thoughts of gratitude for today and move forward.

Any time is a good time to start your Gratitude Journal. I think you’ll find that there’s something therapeutic about Journaling for Joy!

Author's Bio: 

Theresa Ceniccola is The Christian Mompreneur—a Mentor to Moms Who are Running a Business that Supports Faith and Family. She empowers entrepreneurial moms to build profitable businesses with wisdom and grace through the Christian Mompreneur Mastermind program and her professional marketing services, which include copywriting, strategic consultation and private coaching. Her sisterhood of support creates an opportunity for Christian moms to use their gifts to serve others AND create profits -- consistently and gracefully.

The Christian Mompreneur website offers inspiration and support for the faith-filled business journey. If you are ready to go the distance in your business while remaining true to your values, visit Theresa's website and grab your free copy of The Ten Commandments of a Christian Mompreneur!

Theresa is also co-founder of Write to Health, a guided journaling experience dedicated to encouraging people to discover the health benefits of writing. To begin your healing journey, visit the Write to Health website and take the F.R.E.E. 7-Day Journal Challenge today!