Write a good stuff diary (aka a gratitude journal)

The last days of school are upon us, and both students and teachers are eager for the holidays. At this time, motivation can drop, as we are all tired from the extra work requirements of exams and reports, and the end of year school and social activities.

‘This is a time when grumpy behaviour from students is more likely to appear’.

Having students write a gratitude journal each day until the end of term is a simple and fun way to help improve their mood. Although you may roll your eyes at the term ‘gratitude’, nearly 20 years of research has found that regularly acknowledging and appreciating the good things in our lives (gratitude), is linked with increased positive emotions, stronger relationships, better attitudes towards school, and improved physical health.

Instructions

Encourage your students to create and decorate their own diaries, and to give it a title. Some may choose titles such as gratitude journal, good things journal or good stuff diary. They might like to use a pen and paper journal, or create an online version.

Some students I worked with made a movie highlighting things they were grateful for during that year at school and shared it with the class. Other classes have shared one thing with a partner each week, or with the whole class during circle time.

Not everyone will want to create a gratitude journal according to the guidelines below. That’s okay, provide the suggestions, and encourage students to be creative and to employ ideas that work for them.

Write or draw 1-3 positive events, for example,

  • Small – little things (e.g. someone loaned me the extra 20 cents I needed today to buy a muffin. Or a friend explained how to complete a task I didn’t understand).
  • Large – significant things (e.g. going on a holiday).
  • Actions – something you did (e.g. I helped my friend with his maths homework).
  • Nature – something you saw or experienced in the natural world (e.g. a beautiful starry night, a ladybug landing on a flower).
  • Others – something you witnessed someone else do (e.g. listening to your friend sing at assembly).

Don’t write the same thing twice. Choose different types of positive events. For example, if you tend to write mainly Actions, instead write some points about Nature.

 Write at least one sentence describing the positive event, and another sentence reflecting on the event. Reflection sentence prompts include:

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why is this meaningful to me?
  • What can I do tomorrow to ensure this happens again?
  • What can I learn from taking the time to notice and acknowledge this good thing?
  • What way can others or I contribute to this in the future?

Example of a sentence for the good stuff journal

Good thing: Feeling totally happy running in the park after school listening to music.

Reflection: Exercising helps me feel happy. I need to remember this when I can’t be bothered.

Some students may even wish to make or paint the 1 – 3 positive events. It’s a great end of year activity – give it a-go!

Best wishes for a safe, happy and restful break.

 

Zoe Ganim

Psych4Schools Psychologist

  • A.D.M.

    I have had success with students naming one thing they are grateful for in a circle activity. We try to do this every week or so.