Your journaling can be something that is structured, such as writing down all the things for which you are grateful that occurred in the day; this writing can be the last thing you do before going to sleep. Or, as something comes into your mind, you can simply write it down.
You can take time to write down as many things as you think at one sitting, or simply as they come into your thoughts. Your Gratitude Journal should always be readily accessible so when the inspiration hits you, you have the ability to capture the thought!
As you interact during the day, think about what you can journal about – this will often put you in a more gratitude-filled mood. When you are searching for gratitude, you will easily find it. When you spot something, write it down.
You can date each entry or just keep it free-flowing. If you want to personalize it, you can include pictures you have taken to help immortalize the moment.
What is a Gratitude Journal?
Anything can pretty much be a gratitude journal – an old notebook, a loose-leaf folder, a dedicated journal notebook, an electronic document, or even a collection of scraps of papers! There is no right answer to that it physically is – whatever works best for you and your lifestyle is what you should use.
Now that you have an idea of what it is physically, let me tell you what it REALLY is. A gratitude journal will become one of the most treasured items you possess! Within your journal, you will be writing down all the things for which you are grateful.
Your journaling can be something that is structured, such as writing down all the things for which you are grateful that occurred in the day; this writing can be the last thing you do before going to sleep.
Or, as something comes into your mind, you can simply write it down. You can take time to write down as many things as you think at one sitting, or simply as they come into your thoughts.
Your Gratitude Journal should always be readily accessible so when the inspiration hits you, you have the ability to capture the thought!
How do I get started?
Find that quiet place and quiet time to sit down. I prefer to start the day by writing in my journal, but I know others who like to finish their day by reflecting on the positives that they experienced.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is not a normal diary where one dumps all the cares of the day. This is a journal that gives you the discipline and opportunity to focus on the positives that you experienced. I try to find at least 8 things to be grateful for each day, that may be too many or too few entries for you.
What if I find it hard to identify things I’m grateful for?
You can create a checklist in your head to review for things that may be items you want to acknowledge for the day. It could be something as simple as being able to see the daffodils appear in your garden for the first time in the spring.
It could be for a moving message that you heard in your house of worship. It could be for the unexpected help that a neighbor offered. It could be for being able to hear the birds singing to each other as the dawn breaks.
It could be for the touch of soft fabric against your skin. It could be for the laugh of a child who had been very angry with the world.
Why you should keep a gratitude journal
A gratitude journal can be an elaborate book with a beautiful cover, or it can be a simple notebook, it doesn’t really matter. What counts is that you write in it regularly – and keep it somewhere that you can review it, whenever you want to. Here are 10 reasons to keep a gratitude journal – and how it can change your life, starting today!
Keeping a gratitude journal is fun! Just imagine doing it every day for a year and then looking back to experience the great stuff that happened in your life! Sure that’s worth a few minutes of your time, each day?
Your body feels every thought you think
Whether you’re living in a stressful situation or just thinking back to one, your body doesn’t notice the difference. It will still fire off all of those stress hormones and create the same physical, mental, and emotional tension, whether or not the event is currently happening. So how about spending time getting it to fire off happy hormones, instead?
It can help you sleep better – and dream happier!
Psychologists have proven that our thoughts, as we fall asleep, set the tone for at least the next four hours of dreaming. Surely it’s better to spend the night dreaming about things that make you feel good, rather than reliving your worries and stresses?
It can change the way you think.
When you decide to keep a gratitude journal, you are making a commitment to yourself, to turn your Monkey Mind’s thought habits towards conversations that inspire you, instead of grumbling and criticizing.
It builds up your strength, for when things don’t go so well.
Gratitude can be thought of as being a mental and emotional ‘muscle’ which you can build up with daily exercise. If stuff goes wrong in life and your gratitude muscle is weak, you’ll struggle to find a silver lining in those storm clouds.
But if you already have a strong daily gratitude habit, then your gratitude muscle will be resilient and well-trained, meaning life’s challenges don’t knock you off course as much.
It can turn you into an optimist.
Having a generally optimistic attitude towards life has been shown to cut your stress levels and to improve your physical, mental, and emotional health. By consciously looking for what is going well in your life, you are training yourself to have a more positive outlook.
It can help with ’emotional first aid’.
When ‘stuff happens’, it can be difficult to keep things in perspective and it’s all too easy to drown in the drama of the stories your Monkey Mind is telling. Your gratitude journal gives you back your perspective and helps you to more easily handle whatever is going on for you.
You can see what’s great, not just what’s gone wrong.
If you have a long-term habit of letting your Monkey Minds grumble and gripe, then it becomes a world expert in pointing out everything that is bad and wrong and broken in our lives – and the wider world.
Keeping a daily gratitude journal helps you to rebalance this, by also being able to see what is good and right and wonderful in our day-to-day experience of life.
It helps you let go of old limiting beliefs.
We tend to see what we expect in life – and what we expect is limited by our beliefs about what is possible and likely to happen. These beliefs work as a filter in your brain, passing through the evidence to support them and rejecting evidence that would contradict them.
If you use your gratitude journal to deliberately write down examples of “life being good” and “I feel happy”, then over time old limiting beliefs will melt away.
Starting a gratitude journal is something that the ‘future you’ will thank you for!
Imagine zooming ten or twenty years into your future, having kept a gratitude journal for all of that time. Do you think that the future you will be a different person to the one you are today? Do you think they might feel happier? Less stressed? More positive? Healthier? More vibrant? Generally, more fun to be around?
Or do you think they’ll tell you that they wish you had never taken the time to spend a few minutes a day on gratitude and that they wish you had stayed stuck feeling stressed, miserable and grumpy? How about taking the first steps towards that ‘future you’ today – and starting your gratitude journal?