A few years after my father died, I went on a one-month sabbatical. I drove from Texas to California and back, stopping along the way to take in the beauty of the land and to reflect on my life. It was a great experience in some ways. In others, it was difficult.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
I had to deal with a lot of baggage. I was forced to confront my own mortality, as well as the mistakes I’d made through the years.
I came back refreshed and ready to take charge of my life. I also came back with a certain amount of pain, once buried deep, now on the surface.
After a time, and with some counseling, I learned that I needed to let go of the past and live in the present.
Whatever time I have left on this earth, I want to live it in the gratitude of everything I have experienced, the good and the bad.
It is an incredibly freeing experience. I want the same for you!
Here’s the problem. We are incredibly forgetful creatures.
Most of us are so focused on getting what we don’t have that we rarely reflect on all the good we already have.
Jesus didn’t live that way. He taught us to get away from the daily grind from time to time and take time to smell the roses.
Hit the pause button on the chase and be grateful for what you already have.
The Balm of Gratitude
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name” (Psalm 100:4).
A recent research study found that “practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological counseling carries greater benefits than counseling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief.” 
1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions.
Focusing on negative thoughts allows toxic emotions to stew. Gratitude mops up the toxicity.
2. Gratitude helps even if we don’t share it.
The process of writing about your gratitude (whether in a letter or journal) has a healing effect.
3. Gratitude’s benefits take time.
The research shows that a few minutes each day, over a long period of time, brings the best results. It becomes a way of life.
4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain
We spend a lot of time chasing the things we don’t have. The chase has turned us into a bundle of anxiety and stress. Gratitude reverses that process and helps us to focus on the things we already have.
The Gratitude Journey
… but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
I challenge you to embark on your gratitude journey today.
I have designed and written a Gratitude Journal specifically for men, primarily because men are notoriously bad about this.
First, we are socialized to compete with others for first prize. We are taught to constantly strive for the goal and to never be satisfied with anything less.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that; however, it can produce men who are never truly happy with what they have.
Second, we are notoriously bad about expressing ourselves. I know that’s not true for all men. But for too many, it nails us.
My experience is that spending five minutes every day focusing on gratitude will go a long way to bringing balance and joy to life.
Every word in this journal has been bathed in prayer and painstakingly written with the specific needs of men in mind. I want you to be free to express everything you are feeling.
This is not about checking another thing off your to-do list. The last thing I want to do is place another burden on you or make you feel guilty.
I would never have written this journal if I didn’t believe that it would add immeasurable value to your life. To that end, I hope you will use the journal in a way that works for you.
God bless you and WELCOME TO THE JOURNEY!
- “How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain” by Joshua Brown, Joel Wong, https://greatergood.berkeley.edu