Dr. Elisabeth Paige
Tiny Buddha's Gratitude and Worry Journals
Updated: Sep 14, 2018
“What skills can you use to get through the next 48 hours?” I grimaced. I was lucky enough to be in dialectical behavioral therapy and mindfulness skills trainings for years but it’s putting them to use that’s the problem. The last few days were difficult so the question was legitimate but annoying. The first thing that came to mind was writing. I have been doing gratitude lists for years but they were getting boring and redundant. The same things appear on the gratitude lists everyday—my partner, my dog, my healthcare team, my mom, my family, my friends, shut up and write, my apartment, living in downtown Sacramento, my TV with new cool voice control, and my computers.
To spice things up, I purchased The Little Buddha’s Gratitude Journal by Lori Deschene with all kinds of interesting gratitude writing prompts and even pages with line drawings to color and write on. Some of the writing prompts include: “Which places do you most appreciate and why?, Which challenges have you overcome? Is there anything else worth appreciating about these experiences?, What’s your favorite animal and what do you love about it?, I’m grateful I had the courage to…, What’s one good habit you’ve formed, and why do you appreciate yourself for doing this? How has it improved your life?.” On a good day, these writing prompts are easy, on a difficult day I really need to push myself. But, it’s always worth it and makes me feel a little better about the world and my life. These writings prove to me that even in my most painful moments, I have a lot to be grateful for.
I’m a chronic worrier. My father always says that he doesn’t have to worry, he can just let me do it for him. I once read a book where the author, A.J. Jacobs hires someone to worry for him and he worries for her. However, the experiment failed when he started worrying that she wasn’t worrying enough about his problems. I could totally relate.
Along with the Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, I use Lori’s Tiny Buddha’s Worry Journal. It’s cool because you can buy the kindle versions and take notes on each page using the notes feature. Some of the writing prompts include: “I know I don’t need to carry all my responsibilities and burdens on my own. Today I will ask for help with…. ‘What is the best advice you have received about worrying and how can you apply this today? and My anxiety does not define me. I am so much more than that. I am…”
She also asks you to do things like draw a clock and set aside a worry time. And, when you start worrying at other times of the day, try to wait until your specified worry window. Hug someone to release the feel good chemical oxytocin, Imagine how your hero or mentor—fictional or real, dead or alive—would handle your current worries and write the story below.”
I use both of these journals daily, skimming until I find a prompt or instruction that is particularly meaningful for that day. I write my gratitude posts in my mood log for my therapist so not only do I get the benefit from it, but he follows what’s going on in my life. You can also use the prompts to guide emails or letters that you write to friends and family to stay in touch in a positive way. I hope you enjoy them and find them as helpful as I do.