“Journaling can be an essential way of making sense of our lives,” says yoga teacher and writer Susanna Harwood Rubin, author of Yoga 365—a book of daily wisdom.

Harwood Rubin, who is a breast cancer survivor, describes her writing practice as integral to navigating the tumultuous time following her diagnosis in 2015, the chemotherapy and double mastectomy in 2018, and the long road to recovery. “There were a couple of times at the beginning of my diagnosis when I was so devastatingly depressed that I made bullet pointed lists of things for which I was grateful, which created a sort of raft of meaning in the turbulence of my life,” she says.

The mental, physical, and social health benefits of a gratitude practice are well-documented in the field of positive psychology. Robert Emmons, PhD, the world’s leading expert in gratitude research, defines gratitude as the ability to recognize what’s good in our lives; that which we might otherwise take for granted.