Vogt’s Notes: Keep track of what you’re grateful for every day

I plan to really think hard each day and reflect on what I’m truly thankful for in hopes of alleviating holiday stress

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A training opportunity recently came through my email at work from our corporate human resources department. It said:

“The Case for Gratitude: Research shows that strengthening your gratitude muscle can lower stress and improve mood… and building this muscle actually feels good. We will share ways you can strengthen your gratitude muscle and retrain your brain with practical ideas for every day.”

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A few days later another work-related opportunity arrived in my email inbox to participate in a four-week challenge designed to help me sail through the busy holidays with less stress and more peace.

It’s called “Surviving the Season.”

“The holidays are supposed to be a time of magic, giving and wonder. But let’s be real: They can also be a time of stress and overwhelm (right?!),” the email read. “This brand-new challenge will focus on taking the craziness out of the holidays, and instead help you create a simple, meaningful, heart-filled holiday season you and your family can enjoy together.”


Count me in!

Both of these opportunities incorporate the idea of writing down three things I am grateful for every day.

I’ve heard of this idea, and I participated in a past work challenge where I jotted down things I’m grateful for at the end of each day.

It’s not as easy as you might think.

I got a little sloppy the last time I did this. This time, I plan to really think hard each day and reflect on what I’m truly thankful for that day.

I’m hopeful it will indeed help my holiday mood.

No matter how determined I am at the start of every Christmas season not to fall victim to stress, but rather to enjoy the season and all it offers, I fail miserably every year.

No matter how many lists I make and how organized I try to be, I get crabby and spend too many sleepless nights worrying.


When are we going to get the Christmas lights up outside? When will we find time to get and decorate a Christmas tree and the rest of the house?

What should we get the kids for Christmas? How much should we spend? Did we spend an equal amount on each kid and kid-in-law? Who else do we need to buy for? What should we get them?

Should we send Christmas cards this year?

Where will we spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? How will we fit everyone in? When are we going where?

And let’s try not to forget the entire reason we celebrate Christmas - when and where will I attend a church service?

And so on and so on. I’m sure many of you can relate.

As I celebrate Thanksgiving Day with family and friends I consider family, and then enter the holiday season, I’ll again try my best to enjoy every moment and to remember “the reason for the season.”

I’ll count my blessings and diligently write down what I’m grateful for every day.


That challenge started Monday. The first three things on my gratitude journal are:

  • Coworkers, because it takes every one of us to produce a quality newspaper under early deadline pressure during a holiday week.
  • Health insurance, because I was able to pay a bill that was due after my husband spent time in the hospital and racked up enormous charges.
  • The Vikings, because — though they do cause a strange form of stress (it’s just a football game, for goodness’ sake!) — they’ve been fun to watch on TV or listen to on the radio this season. (Well, before this past Sunday's game anyway. But I'm choosing to keep them on my list.)

Join me in writing down three things you are grateful for every day in the next month. Then let’s compare notes.
Happy Thanksgiving, and let the Christmas season begin.

Nancy Vogt, editor, may be reached at 218-855-5877 or Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at

Nancy Vogt - Vogt's Notes.jpg
Nancy Vogt, PineandLakes Echo Journal Editor

Opinion by Nancy Vogt
Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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