At the start of 2020, we had no idea what was in store for us. I distinctly remember grabbing a drink at a favorite Princeton bar and restaurant on New Year’s Day, surrounded by friends and family, and toasting my newly legal Moscow Mule to the sky. I just turned 21, graduated college early, and was ready to take on the newest chapter of my life and tackle this new decade. Instead, like so many of us, my journey took a major detour.
Though the coronavirus sent the year into a frenzy, there were some shimmers of hope throughout the year that I didn’t want to forget. And luckily, a project I began in January as my New Year’s resolution served as that beacon of light as the year went on: a gratitude journal.
I was never one to limit progress to a New Year’s resolution, but I began gratitude journaling shortly after my family was suffering their own hardships at the very top of the year. I wanted to take time each day to thank myself for my strength, be grateful for the wellness of the people around me, and notice the little things in each day that I was truly grateful for. As cheesy as the project sounds, it turned out to be the best decision I made this year.
I wanted to take time each day to thank myself for my strength, be grateful for the wellness of the people around me, and notice the little things in each day that I was truly grateful for.
The exercise works by finding a few minutes for mindfulness each day. I date the page and begin each journal entry with some version of “Today, I am grateful for…” And to follow are small bits of the day I felt grateful for. Like the weather, pizza night, or watching a Say Yes To The Dress marathon.
Some days, the list was crisp and brief. My entries from March were curt and mostly stressed my gratitude for a healthy family, for trying new recipes, and for crafting with my sister at my kitchen table. Blurbs from June expressed my gratitude for the gorgeous weather, for my newly started garden, and for days sprawled on my beach towel reading a book (even if I flew solo more often than usual this year). Some days were long and expressive and ranged from events I was grateful for to qualities about myself I appreciate, as I felt I could use a reminder that particular day.
Down to the most minute events, like my first time going back to the grocery store (what a strange day, to admit I was grateful for Wegmans) this journal acted as a chronicle of a year that I never anticipated would turn the way it did. Even if I sat down to write and could think of nothing notable from that day, I always could be thankful for something, and that part of the exercise made me a more mindful and present woman each day.
Even if I sat down to write and could think of nothing notable from that day, I always could be thankful for something, and that part of the exercise made me a more mindful and present woman each day.
I did somehow manage to log (mostly) every day from this past year, and the exercise changed my perspective on how I approach each day. I’m looking forward to reading back the highlights—and even the lowlights—of my year, and having positive memories to reminisce on as we enter a new year. And for that, I am grateful.