How to Use Your Journal to Write a Thank You Note

This cheerful exercise brings together some of journaling’s best features:

  • Thinking on paper. By composing a thank you note using your journal, you can take a moment to think about someone’s generosity or kindness and what it means to you.

  • Memory keeping. You’ll create a record of the moment or action for which you’re thankful and that will help you remember it.

  • Transforming thoughts into action. This is where the power of journaling really shines through. It gives you an easy way not only to recognize your gratitude, but also to act on it.

All it takes are a few simple, specific steps.

Starting in your journal, write your responses to these five prompts:

  1. One person you’d like to thank.

  2. One thing you’d like to thank her or him for.

  3. Two details to describe the thing for which you’re thankful.

  4. One way in which it made a difference to you.

  5. One lovely thing about the person you’re thanking.

Next, select a card or sheet of note paper and turn your prompt responses into a thank you note. Here’s one way you might write it:

Dear (1.),

Thank you so much for (2.)! I love (3.).

It means so much to (4.). You’re (5.)!

Love,

The only thing left to do is sign your name and you’re finished!

In a short sequence of thoughtful steps, you’ve documented a meaningful moment in two ways — in your journal for you to keep and in a note expressing your gratitude to send to someone who will surely be thrilled to receive it.

To make it even easier, I’ve created a new printable journal page that includes all the prompts I listed above. You can download it by clicking here or on the image above. As always, the pdf file includes four page sizes: letter, half letter, A4, and A5.

If you’d like to see more, you’ll find a variety of 10 Minute Journal Pages, free sample pages, and much more in my printables shop.

 

How to Use Your Journal to Access Your Inner Wisdom

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This journal technique is simple and straightforward. It uses a basic question and answer format and requires no tools other than a pen and paper.

There’s just this one thing . . . you’ll be asking the questions AND answering them, which is the key to connecting with your knowledge and experience. It sounds a little unusual, but once you get the hang of it, you may be surprised to discover the depth and breadth of your own wisdom.

Accessing Your Inner Wisdom

Here’s how to begin:

Step one: Ask yourself a question, in writing, in your journal.

Step two: Answer your question, in writing, in your journal.

Repeat steps one and two until you’re satisfied with the work you’ve done.

That’s really all there is to it. Two steps repeated many times. The trick to making it work is not letting yourself off the hook.

Follow Every Answer With a New Question

Let’s say you’ve got a big decision to make, but you’re not sure what to do. You could begin by asking yourself, What should I do?

Your first and most honest answer might be, I don’t know, which is entirely okay. That’s why you’re doing this. Keep going. Ask the next question: Why don’t I know?

Then answer it.

You might not find the answers you seek right away, but don’t let that stop you from following every answer, especially the ones that seem the least helpful and the most unproductive, with a new question.

If you don’t know because you don’t have enough information, ask yourself how to find more information. If you don’t know because it’s a hard question, ask yourself why it’s hard. If you don’t know because you’re afraid to know, ask yourself why you’re afraid.

Then answer your questions and the follow-up questions they inspire, in writing, in your journal. You may find that the answers you’re searching for are already within you, just waiting to be written.

Why Your Journal Is an Excellent Place to Access Your Inner Wisdom

I love this format. It usually doesn’t take long for me to get past the I don’t knows and the I’m not sures to the core of difficult challenges and decisions. It has a lot to do with how I view my journal.

My journal is a safe place to think. It’s a judgment free zone. It’s always there for me when I need it. In return, my journal requires words. It requires me to articulate and describe, and in order to do so, I have to pay attention. I have to stop for a moment and think things through.

The results are often incredibly heartening — a new path forward, a renewed sense of confidence, a new understanding of myself that yields more intentional decisions. I don’t always find perfect answers to my questions, but I always find somewhere to start, something to do to move forward.

If you’d like to give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes. Leave a comment below or drop me a line via email. I’d love to chat!

P.S. I’ve also used aspects of this technique in two of my printable journal pages: When You Just Need a Moment to Think and Reason 10 in my free e-book 10 Good Reasons to Journal, if you’re looking for a place to start.

 

3 Journal Prompts for Doing the Impossible

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Whenever I think about impossible things, Walt Disney’s cheerful quote comes to mind: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

You have to admit, he has a point. It’s all kinds of fun to do things we didn’t think we could do, to achieve goals we thought were impossible, and journaling is an excellent way to get the ball rolling.

Here are my three journal prompts for doing the impossible:

1. One thing you used to think was impossible (but you went ahead and did it anyway).

Think about one thing you’re quite able to do now that once felt impossible. Perhaps it’s a skill you now practice with ease, a job or position at which you now excel, a good habit you’ve developed, or a project in which you’re involved that makes a difference. Write that impossible thing down.

2. One thing that feels impossible right now (but probably isn’t).

Now that you’ve already done the impossible, there’s no reason you can’t do it again. Write down the next thing you’d like to do that, in this moment, feels impossible. (For extra credit, add a few thoughts about what it is about this thing that feels impossible and a few reasons why it probably isn’t.)

3. One small step you can take toward achieving the thing that feels impossible (but probably isn’t).

Now that you’re ready to achieve the impossible, write down one teeny tiny thing you can do to get started. Make sure it’s small enough that you can do it now. Yes, right now. After all, even the most difficult tasks, even the seemingly impossible ones, start with a single step. What’s your first step?

A final thought on using your journal to help you do the impossible:

Don’t put your journal away just yet. Go out and take that first step, then come back to your journal and check it off. Jot down one or two things you learned along the way and what it felt like to complete your first step. Then turn your mind, your pen, and your actions to the next teeny tiny step you can take. And so on. Until you’ve done it again — achieved the impossible. I’ll be cheering you on all the way.

If you’d like to see more of my journal prompts, hop on over to my printables shop, where you’ll find a colourful collection of printable journal pages, including lots of free pages, full of encouragement and inspiration on your journey to make the impossible possible. I’ve also added a brand new printable to my 10 Minute Journal Page collection that was inspired by this post!

 

Tell me about your day

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The longer I journal, the more I appreciate the stories of our days. Short enough to wrap our heads around, long enough to recognize the actions and reactions, big and small, that made a difference.

When we tie those stories together over weeks and months, moments become patterns, choices become paths, and, if we’re so inclined, the insights that emerge become opportunities for transformation. It’s a line of inquiry I find endlessly fascinating, with boundless potential.

If you’re up for sharing, tell me a little something about your day today. What’s one thing, big or small, you did today that made it better — more productive, more impactful, more enjoyable, or more interesting?

 

What if you don't even feel that way anymore?

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I read a passage recently about using reflection to be mindful of old emotions in new circumstances. I wrote in the margin and then my journal: what if you don’t even feel that way anymore?

It’s such a simple formula for letting go of an old hurt or insecurity. And when you do, it’s incredibly gratifying to realize you’ve grown to the point that something that might have ruined your day once upon a time, is now easily dismissed in favour of more constructive thoughts and experiences.

 

A Year In The Life Journal Calendar

Just in time for 2019, I made a printable journal calendar! It's jam-packed with more than 200 prompts that make it fun and easy to capture a memorable moment every day from January 1st to December 31st.

I’ve always believed that journaling brings together two important actions — the creation of a unique life’s record and the opportunity to find meaning and direction right there in the middle of it all.

But the longer I journal, the more I see that there’s even more to it than that. Equally valuable to the record created and the meaning and direction chosen is the potential for journaling to develop, strengthen, and broaden the mind and spirit.

The longer I journal, the more fascinating details I notice out there in the world, the more often I’m able to turn my attention to the things that matter most, even on my worst days, and the more deeply I’m able to appreciate each step along the way.

Long story short, it’s not just the journal, it’s the way that journaling sends us out into the world with curiosity, a desire to notice and take meaningful action, and an ever-better understanding of how to make the best of our own lives in our own way and in our own time.

Even if it starts with just a moment or two of reflection each day in a printable journal calendar.

Sending you my very best wishes for the remainder of 2018 and for a year to come filled with wonder and boundless possibilities for discovery.

 

To see it all as if for the first time

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I’ve been reading up on critical reflection and making lots of margin notes. This one — to see it all as if for the first time — made it into my journal last week, along with snippets of paper I lined, dashed, and dotted.

It’s part reminder and part inspiration for future printables — to find new ways to see and experience everyday events, to remember how it felt the first time, to notice the little details that make repeated routines unique, to be grateful the first time and the hundredth time.

I’m thinking it might come together in a new 10 minute journal page. I’ll keep you posted!

 

What Is And What Could Be

As I was scrolling through Pinterest recently, I noticed the quote, “I see you in colours that don’t exist,” by poet Paul Matsumoto. Have you seen it before? I hadn’t, but it struck a chord.

I feel like this all the time. And not just in seeing people, but in so many of my experiences of the world. I find myself drawn to a vision of the world that doesn’t quite exist. Don’t we all? My vision tends toward kinder, slower, more accepting, less painful.

I often wonder how to incorporate that sensation into my journaling in a way that is constructive and rooted in everyday experience, but that also leaves room for expansion of the colour palette. It’s a constant challenge. It’s a fine line between aspiration and fantasy.

The truth is that I don’t know exactly how to do that yet. But it feels good to try. Today’s journal experiment is a step along the way – thinking about ways to bridge the gap between what is and what could be. It’s up in the shop if you’d like to take a peek.

For now though, do you carry a vision of a world that doesn’t quite exist? What does it look like to you?

 

Everyday Moments - This Week's Journal Page

This week, I'm writing a small blurb in my newsletter about finding meaning and beauty in everyday moments and now I can’t stop thinking about it. 

It's an idea at the core of my journaling – and my life. This is hard to write -- maybe it shouldn't be -- but I think I revel in everyday moments because I find day-to-day life really hard. My natural disposition is pretty dark. Negative thoughts come far more easily to me than positive ones. So the positive stuff I do, write, and say – it’s almost always intentional, deliberate, fought for, chosen over something negative. 

And you know what? I'm grateful for whatever it is in me that makes me work to find the good. It means I am always on the lookout for silver linings, for interesting things I missed in my initial evaluations, for bright spots and points of connection in the people I meet. It helps me take fewer things for granted. It helps me judge less and care more. It helps me love my life. And, for the most part, even when life is especially hard, I really do.

That’s what I want to share in my journal work online, the search for the good and the meaningful and -- most of all -- the finding of the good and meaningful in places we have access to right now and in moments we are experiencing right now. I have the feeling I’m not the only one who has to work hard for both. 

This week’s printable journal page was an exploration of that search. Today, I cut and pasted two sections from the page (and some pretty pastel paper!) into my little notebook. I’ll write about the effort I’ve put into a collaboration with an amazing partner that led to an opportunity for us to speak at an international conference next week and I’ll work hard to frame this experience as an adventure – something to be enjoyed rather than worried over.

How about you? What efforts and adventures have you been up to so far this week?

 

Journal Prompt - Seeing, hearing, feeling

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I love prompts about noticing -- because there's so much I miss when I'm not paying attention. I also love prompts with gentle juxtapositions -- like looking outside, then inside in the moment.

Right now, I see snow -- lots of it, I hear machines -- the fan on my computer, traffic outside, a rumbly furnace, and I feel ... hmm, honestly, I feel hopeful in this moment. Which I'm glad I noticed.

How about you? If you stop right now, just for moment, what do you notice?