The Strange Powers of a Gratitude Journal

Jason Henry
4 min readNov 1, 2019

When reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, the first exercise to let the innate artist emerge was called the “morning pages”. As the name suggests, one was to write long form about whatever sprang to one’s mind.

This was done to let the subconscious out — the inner artist. I figured, why not give it a shot? I am a writer after all. It didn’t take long to see why Cameron suggested this exercise first and so often throughout her book. The mental fog that made decision-making so difficult was dispelled and whatever actions I took were more certain.

Then I remembered something that was suggested to me back in my early twenties — a daily gratitude journal. I never did it back then because I didn’t think much of it and I figured if I was just grateful throughout the day, I’d get the same effect of the journal or greater.

That definitely didn’t happen. I found it hard to focus on gratitude because I was still focusing on the problem(s) I was trying to solve. I needed structure but I dismissed it.

Fast forward to my late twenties; I’m in full-swing of my morning pages and I realize that now that I have the habit of writing in the morning, why not just add some gratitude to the pages? So I did. I would write at least five things I was thankful for. It often is more than five because once you start, you find more and more things you really like.

What happened next was astounding. I felt better. Life got better. There was a revitalization I hadn’t experienced since the end of high school. And then I got upset because I realized I could’ve been enjoying life earlier had I just listened. It’s as they say, “Wisdom is wasted on the old.”

Now, this sounds great and all, but I wouldn’t say that it’s strange. If you focus on the good, you experience more of it. It’s like a positive confirmation bias. The freshness was probably due to finally breaking an ancient cycle of repetitive negativity.

But this is where things left me downright giddy. A few months ago I had the thought to give thanks for things I didn’t like. The judgmental part of my mind said that that didn’t make any sense. If you aren’t thankful for it, don’t write it. But I followed my gut instead and did it. I’ll share some examples over the last few…

Jason Henry

Former Edu. Psychologist | Current Writer | Constant Learner | “By your stumbling the world is perfected.”