The Startup
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The Startup

I’ve Started an Ingratitude Journal

Whatever would Oprah think?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In the last month, I’ve accomplished my goal of being “someone who journals”. (Let’s hope it lasts…) I’ve always known journalling was sort of important for creativity and mental health — because I specifically remember Oprah telling me that was the case back when I was a university student who procrastinated on assignments by watching a lot of daytime TV.

But Oprah’s idea of a Gratitude Journal didn’t exactly appeal to me — not when I was an emotionally tortured teenager and not now that I’m an anxiety-riddled adult. Hey look, if it works for you to write down five things you’re grateful for every day, go for it. But not all of us have Maya Angelou calling to read us a new poem (featured on Oprah’s list).

Oprah would no doubt be unimpressed if she flipped through the pages of my diary because it’s pretty much exclusively full of angry rants. So maybe if gratitude doesn’t float your boat, here’s why you might consider keeping an Ingratitude Journal.

It feels good to complain

It really does though. There’s nothing quite like waking up to a cup of fresh coffee — and a blank page eagerly awaiting a rundown of the things you feel upset about, where you can describe at length the ways you’ve been hard done by, the people who didn’t like the cut of your jib, and the problems both large and small which get you down. The fact is that there are a lot of legitimate reasons to feel ungrateful and all the cold melon in the world isn’t going to change that (Oprah’s list again).

But most people don’t like listening to it

One of the only downsides about working from home is that I don’t have colleagues I can hang around the watercooler with, gossiping about Karen from Accounts (is that what goes on in offices?) But let’s face it, most of the time it’s a real drag listening to the complaints of anyone except yourself. Naturally you might be worried about undermining your reputation as a regular ball of sunshine to those around you. Don’t worry, your Ingratitude Journal will never reveal the dirty little secret that you are, in fact, a wildly wretched individual.

It clears your head

Waking up feeling aggrieved is no way to start the day — and yet it’s how I start many of my days, which is why it’s generally a good thing I don’t have human contact until around 6pm. It’s basically like all the panic associated with a hangover, without the hankering for a hot, cholesterol-soaked breakfast. But popping all your negative thoughts into a fancy little hardcover book really wakes you up, I find. It’s like giving the floor a good sweep before you sit down to eat your hashed browns and fried sausages off it.

It’s healthier than social media

I know what you’re thinking — we already have a socially acceptable form of Ingratitude Journalling. It’s called Twitter. But the best part about logging your thoughts privately, instead of dumping every single one into the public sphere the moment they appear in your seething brain, is that people don’t get to hurl abuse at you for having them. Your diary won’t shout back and tell you that you are wrong in ALL CAPS!!! You won’t get confused by the endless journal entries (ahem, tweets) of what other people are angry about to muddy your singular focus on your own ingratitude.

So if there’s one thing I’m grateful for in this turbulent mess of a world, it is my Ingratitude Journal. Do you hear me, Oprah?

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Claire J. Harris

Claire J. Harris

Global wanderer. Expert thumb-twiddler. Screenwriter, travel writer, and copy writer. Find me at