One Grateful Atheist

I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in my early twenties and my main focus at the time was recovery. After a few years, my symptoms were managed and I decided I wanted to help others, so I got a part-time job at a group home. I have now been working in the mental health field for sixteen years. I have had jobs at three different organizations and I’m passionate about my work.

I am a certified peer supporter and last year I also became certified in trauma support. The training in trauma support was intense and took several months. There were many hours of training videos and sixteen weeks of trainings via Zoom.

To my surprise, becoming certified in trauma support was less about taking care of others and more about taking care of myself. The main takeaway was that you can’t care for others if you are not well.

During my training, I learned about meditation, relaxation, grounding, and gratitude. Sometimes we started our Zoom meetings by writing down five to ten things we’re grateful for. We were told that happier people tend to show more gratitude. At first, it was difficult to come up with that many things. I would write down my family and job but it was hard to think of more. As time went on, it got a little easier.

I recently was feeling down and I remembered our exercises in gratitude. Does it truly make you happier? So two weeks ago I started a gratitude journal and I’ve been writing down at least ten things every day. I include the big things like my family, my job, art, and writing but also little things like good-smelling hair products, peacock blue paint, and my house plants. Those last few things may seem insignificant, but they really do bring me joy. 

I have to admit, it has boosted my mood. The last two weeks have given me a more positive outlook. I think I’m going to keep going with the journal and see if I notice anything else.

One thing I didn’t expect is that in a way my journal helps me celebrate my atheism. Every time I make a list of things I’m grateful for I realize I can truly appreciate my life and the world around me without having to credit a deity, and it feels amazing. 

My gratitude journal is really cute. It’s fuzzy and has a panda on it. I bought it at the book fair at my daughter’s school. Can I be grateful for my gratitude journal?

Gratitude exercises may seem a little cheesy, but I think it actually helps. I just wanted to share in case anyone needs a little boost and wants to give it a shot.


I would love to read what you guys are grateful for.


  1. StonedRanger says

    I am grateful for my wife who taught me its okay for me to love me and that made it easier for me to love others. Im grateful for the kids I raised who call me dad. Im grateful that Im not in pain today. Hell, Im grateful I woke up today with my cat sitting six inches from my face purring like that was her only job. Im grateful its not raining. Thats only five but its a start.

  2. John Morales says

    Slight linguistic quibble; I do have things I appreciate in my life, but most of those I can’t attribute to someone else gifting those to me.
    Basically, ‘grateful’ needs a target for that gratitude.

    Also, the converse should apply for symmetry and completion, if that is the stance one takes.
    Those things which affect one’s life, well: if one is not grateful about them, one is perforce ungrateful. The set of things about which one is ungrateful is the complement of the set of things for which one is grateful.

    In short, it’s language loaded with goddish semiotics. Supposedly, one is grateful to the Powers That Be. “Thank God!” is just that, a phatic expression of relief. At least from atheists. Might as well be “Thank Fate!”.

    Now, if one has indeed been gifted stuff which is appreciated by actual entities, then gratitude towards those entities is probably merited. On the other hand, gratitude towards the uncaring reality in which we exist seems a silly thing to essay.

    (Obs, I am not a good subject for such therapy, but — should I be grateful to the Universe for this? — I don’t need such therapy in the first place)

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