Gratitude Journal Helps Island Ship Center Team Count Their Blessings
by Larry Austin
The entire team at the Island Ship Center on Grand Island is enjoying a new year’s gift from company owners Seema and Fahim Mojawalla: gratitude journals.
Called “Okay, Fine. I’m Grateful,” the gift is printed by Knock Knock (knockknockstuff.com), which calls the product an “inner-truth journal.”
“Okay, Fine. I’m Grateful” is subtitled “A journal to catapult me from my default position of griping and negativity to the long-resisted stance of counting my blessings, because it turns out that focusing on the positive actually might be better for my mind, body, and spirit, in no small part because unhappiness is the gap between expectations and reality.”
“We want to be grateful for something every day and this year. We are requiring our team to write in their gratitude journals so that they can remain positive and grateful,” says Fahim.
“Okay, Fine. I’m Grateful” is full of quotes on gratitude that act as writing prompts to help inspire the owner in the writing process.
Fahim read one entry in the gratitude journal in a social media post. “Thankfully, dreams can change. If we’d all stuck with our first dream, the world would be overrun with cowboys and princesses,” said Stephen Colbert. Other quotes include:
“What robe can Gratitude employ so seemly as the radiant vest of Joy?” — William Wordsworth
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson.
Fahim said the gratitude journal is not merely a feel-good endeavor, but rather has proven, tangible, bottom-line benefits because, he said, “Gratitude grows and givers gain.”
“For 18 months, we work on character, consistency, contentment, and clarity,” he said of the team. “And we provide them a vision and go from mediocrity to excellence.”
The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley has made an extensive study of gratitude and is a big promoter of gratitude journals, the book says.
According to the Greater Good Science Center, “As we’ve reported many times over the years, studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful—benefits including better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.”
More specifically, the benefits of gratitude cited include “stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure, higher levels of positive emotions, more joy, optimism, and happiness, acting with more generosity and compassion, feeling less lonely and isolated.”
A report from the American Psychological Association cited in the book said that there is evidence that expressing gratitude can result in “improved mental, and ultimately physical, health in patients with asymptomatic heart failure.”
“The goal is to pay more attention and find gratitude across the spectrum of your daily life, the tiny things and the major events. As the Greater Good Science Center observes, ‘Keeping a gratitude journal—or perhaps the entire experience of gratitude—is really about forcing ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life we’d otherwise take for granted.'”
ISC team members are all on board with the journal. In a new year’s resolution video, ISC team member Yusuf Mojawalla said, “You have to look at all the blessings that you’ve been given in your life. Once you look at what you have in life and you’re thankful for everything you have, then any problem that comes up really doesn’t sound as big.”
ISC team member Brooke Amato said she found her 2018 planner in which she wrote her agenda. She said reading it “brought tears to my eyes” to realize how much she had accomplished, something she didn’t appreciate at the time. In her new gratitude journal, she reminds herself to be natural, impulsive, a better person, and to start each morning grateful. The process of just writing it all down in her journal “makes me realize the stuff that I have, and going to college I wasn’t so in-the-moment.”
“It kind of sounds like kind of pointless writing, but it’s really not,” she said.
Pausing to reflect on the day, something so many people neglect in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, is a key in coming to the inner truth of gratitude.
“Even though in the moment, it might not seem like on that day that you have anything to be specifically grateful for, even just the smallest thing when you look back on it makes you thankful and makes you realize just how fortunate you are,” said Jordan Pachla of the ISC. “Even when you think that everything’s against you, there are so many things to be thankful for. I just think that’s super important.”
“I think it’s an amazing idea. Journaling is always a release,” added Anthony Amato, ISC team member.
It’s not clear how journaling accomplishes all these positive things, “Okay, Fine. I’m Grateful” says. The book offers some user tips:
- Write for five to 15 minutes.
- Use the quotes inside the journal as a jumping-off point.
- Don’t critique your writing.
- Choose a home for your journal where others can’t find it.
Larry Austin is the former editor of a community newspaper in Grand Island, New York, and now works as a freelance writer. Follow and connect with him on Twitter @larrysidelines.