Bad Attitude Journals (the necessary twin of Gratitude Journals)

(Liebesgluck-der Tagebucheintrag, August Muller)

Lots of chat these days about gratitude journals and yes, Darling, it’s good to remember what you have to be thankful for. And it is also very helpful to write down what and who you hate and all the excellent reasons you have to hate them.

Of course you are not writing down your hate in order to come up with lists of justified evil things to do to the malevolent bastards who are making your life miserable. (If you need information about casting spells, diving the future, turning people into frogs and mixing love potions, you need to talk to your other auntie dearest.)

You are writing about everyone and everything you hate in order to capture your emotions within the pages of a book. So all your anger is there in one place and if you start to fume, you write. And then when you start to fume again, you remember that all that animosity is already dealt with – you don’t have to rehash it all again.

Having a bad attitude journal also, over time, gives you perspective, allowing you to see how much time heals. Darling, if you write down today 10 things you are mad about and 10 people who annoy you, you will have the luxury of re-reading what you wrote in July. Et voilà! You will find that the vast majority of the things that were upsetting are gone, often taken away by masked people who jumped down from black & silent helicopters.

Time heals – perhaps not fast enough for your druthers, but it does heal. The pain of X, the missing of Y, the wishing that Z was eaten by sea slugs all eventually fade at least slightly and on you get with your life.

Of course, some anger rightly does not fade, but having it written allows you to shape and organize it. Allow me to tell you the story of dear Prudence, who toiled away at an uninteresting job for years. Faithfully she did her work, always on time and correctly. And always someone else was given the promotion – the raise – the bonus – the days off – the recognition. She needed the job and switching companies in the Middle East is difficult so she beavered away at it, filling up one bad attitude journal after another until she was sick of writing. Then she continued on, still upset, but the brute force of her unhappiness had lessened. The hurt and pain was (mostly) caught with the pages, freeing her to focus on other things.

After a few years one of the people most responsible for her misery left the company. She went to his fare-well lunch (events like that must attended), listened to the speeches and left inconspicuously without eating. (The ancient Greeks and Romans were so right about that – never, never eat food that is in any way connected to a person you hate.)

She had thought she had seen the last of him but on the day he was leaving the country, literately half an hour before he was going to the airport, he showed up in her office. Heavens knows what she would have said or done if her fury was still free-floating but it was nicely contained within the pages of many a journal, so she greeted him calmly.

The idiot pushed his luck and told her good luck for her future, so she serenely explained to him that he did not have the right to wish her well as he had deliberately and unfairly made her life difficult for years.

The man was pole-axed, this is not the conversation he had imagined – she was supposed to act as if nothing was wrong and give him her blessing. She did not. She (very quietly) let him have both barrels: he was unjust and he was unforgiven. He sputtered – she was serene. She said what she wanted to say, without tears or screaming or rudeness or anything he could use to discount her words. She went through how she had behaved well and he had behaved badly and it was all too late to improve or defend anything now. She (very peacefully) cut through all his justifications. He tried to get the upper hand, failed and left in utter defeat. It was lovely.

Some people want to write every day, which is charming, but others need a place to throw the anger, disappointment, irritation and that crops up now and then and Heaven forfend I should leave you without suggestions:

Some ideas

If you are planning on crying: Rite In The Rain all-weather notebooks,

For pretty blank books, look at:

  • Calvillini  & Co.
  • Paperblanks
  • Peter Pauper Press
  • Moleskin

helpful resources:

August Muller - Liebesgluck-der Tagebucheintrag