(Photo by Vivian Wang)
Valencia High School

Mindfulness Matters: How spending $1 changed my life

Mindfulness Matters is a column by Vivian Wang that highlights the simple ways that she maintains mindfulness and self-care through the treacherous, life-changing journey of high school. In this week’s article, Wang discusses her daily journaling routine.

One of my most beloved possessions is my black, spiral-bound journal. It is a thin, wide-ruled, simple journal with no lock and no key that I found at the dollar store. The journal has no monetary value but instead holds its true value of capturing my daily moments of gratitude.

Each night, I spend a moment to reflect upon my day and the aspects of my life that I am thankful for. Whether it be the kind, little girl who held the restroom door open or my priceless moments in the car with my family singing to our favorite songs, all of my grateful moments are forever documented in my journal. Journaling gratitude was never a distinct aspect of my life until I realized how gratitude transformed the lives of my siblings.

The concept of a gratitude journal originated when my sister started college. College was becoming more and more rigorous, my sister’s sleep schedule was irregular, and most importantly, she needed more time to herself for her mental health.

When my sister returned home from college, she explained to me that her gratitude journal contains three aspects of her life that made her feel grateful each day.

My little brother began his gratitude journal in June. Although he is only 12, he has truly grasped the concept of gratitude. I remember reading one of his journal entries which said, “I am thankful for my dog because I love walking her in the park”.

A simple walk in the park makes my video game fanatic brother grateful and joyful.

Seeing how my siblings could practice gratitude daily, I was inspired to start my own gratitude journal over summer. When summer began, I felt stressed after setting unreasonable expectations for myself. Initially, writing in my gratitude journal was such a struggle.

On the most typical, dry days when I sat at my desk for hours studying for the SAT, what was there to be grateful for? Eventually, I found my gratitude journal to be a pointless concept and I completely lost belief in my gratitude journal.

There would be days where it was a struggle to think of just one aspect of my life that made me feel grateful that day. At this point, I decided to take a pause in my gratitude journaling. In the time when I chose not to journal, I realized how plain my life was.

I missed savoring every moment and enjoying the little aspects of my life that made me smile. I did not journal for a week until I decided to continue writing in my gratitude journal once again.

The pause in my journaling strengthened my appreciation for my gratitude journal. Even though I was not learning in a classroom over the summer, I still learned in a different manner. I learned to savor every moment and practice mindfulness, whether it was strolling across the beach and listening to the crashing beach waves or waking up to a motivational text message from my best friend.

The journal has no lock. Its intention is not to act as a diary, but rather a reflective, personal space for me to reminisce about in many years. The simplest moments of my life that were once overlooked are now the highlights of my day.

What would you write in your gratitude journal today?