Gratitude Journaling: The Ultimate Guide to Remaining Thankful All Year Long
What are you grateful for today? Can you recall all the small moments that brought joy to your day?
Could be the stranger who held the door for you, the promotion you received at work, or the sound of the falling rain while you slept.
Even in your darkest days, there’s always something to be grateful for.
However, very few people give thanks for the small blessings.
Seriously think about it…
When you fall into your couch after a long day at work, what events come to mind?
Unless you got a job promotion or got engaged, you’re more likely to think of the broken home appliances that need fixing, the impossible client you had to deal with in the afternoon, or the rude tout who just couldn’t shut up.
However, here’s some good news…
With a little practice, anyone can learn how to be more grateful and in turn, enjoy the emotional and physical benefits that come with thanksgiving.
And one of the best ways of counting your blessings is through gratitude journaling.
If you’re wondering what gratitude journaling is, and how to start, this guide is for you. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about keeping a gratitude log.
What is a gratitude Journal?
A gratitude journal is a tool for recording and reflecting on the silver linings of your day.
The physical format of a gratitude journal is not as important. You can use a notebook, diary, journal, piece of paper, or an app to keep track of what you’re grateful for. What matters is how you use your log.
Starting gratitude journaling is extremely simple.
Got a new client? Journal it!
Got a positive comment on a job you did? Journal it!
Received good news from your doctor or spouse? Journal it!
Wondering how keeping a thanksgiving log will affect your life? Read on to learn the numerous benefits of this simple but effective practice.
Why Keep A Gratitude Journal?
It’s a well-known fact…
Gratitude is good for your overall wellbeing.
The same goes for gratitude journaling. The simple act of writing down what you’re thankful for can have long-lasting benefits in your life
I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for the past nine months and here are a few benefits I’ve noticed.
1. I feel calmer and sleep better especially when I journal at night
2. Journaling has also allowed me to gain clarity on what I want to have more in my life
3. Keeping a gratitude journal has also helped me to appreciate my friends and family more for their positive impact on my life.
4. By writing about my small wins, I feel more accomplished, and I’m able to notice the small blessings in my life
5. Journaling every day has allowed me to feel more balanced and less likely to be thrown off by the stress of daily life
6. On days when I’m feeling blue, I read through my gratitude journal and my spirits are immediately lifted.
7. By keeping a gratitude journal, I was able to remain thankful and composed even after my dad died. Even during this hard time, I still found a silver lining to the dark cloud that had encompassed our family.
My self-reporting is far from scientific. Luckily, psychology researchers have completed some groundbreaking studies that explain the many health and wellness benefits that come from keeping a thanksgiving log.
· One such study, conducted by world renowned gratitude expert Dr Emmons explained that people who journaled once a week reported feeling more optimistic, felt better physically, and had a greater sense of well being.
· Those who kept a daily gratitude log were more likely to offer emotional support to others and were more successful in working towards achieving their personal goals.
· Another study that focused on white women found that keeping a gratitude log reduced feelings of loneliness, which in turn, resulted in improved health and wellbeing.
· A 2017 study found that keeping a thanksgiving log enhanced conventional treatment of heart diseases and resulted in reduced inflammation among stage B heart failure patient.
· Psychology researchers have also found a link between keeping a gratitude journal and a decrease in depressive symptoms. Reflecting on the positive things in your life can also help you to better cope with traumatic events
Oprah has kept a gratitude journal for over 20 years. Here’s what she has to say about the benefits of gratitude journaling.
From all the above, it’s clear that gratitude journaling has multiple upsides and zero downsides.
However, how does one get into the practice of gratitude journaling?
Starting Gratitude Journaling
Starting gratitude journaling is pretty straightforward. All you need is a blank notebook that you use to write down the good things that happen to you either on a weekly or daily basis.
However, if this minimalistic approach is not for you, below are a few tips on how to start gratitude journaling
Tip 1: Choose A Journal
Your journal of choice will depend on several factors.
Do you prefer the traditional pen and paper method or a digital journal?
Does the journal appeal to you aesthetically?
Lined or ruled?
I prefer traditional journals since they are durable and easily portable. I try not to use my phone early in the morning and right before sleep; therefore, a digital option may not appeal to me.
However, the choice depends on you. Whatever you choose, ensure it doesn’t infringe on your lifestyle, otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Tip 2: Develop a Ritual
Consistency is the key to success, and rituals help develop consistency.
Even before you begin writing, create a ritual that you will repeat every time you journal. Having a routine lets your body and mind know that it’s time for gratitude.
I drink a glass of warm water and say a short calming prayer before I journal.
Other rituals that you can adopt include:
· Lighting a candle before journaling
· Chanting a mantra
· Playing a favorite song
Whatever ritual you choose, do it consistently, and it will eventually become a habit.
Tip 3: Dedicate a Time for Journaling
Whether you journal daily or once a week, it’s essential to set a specific time for the practice.
Picking the right time to journal will depend on your schedule. Some people (including me) prefer starting their day with gratitude, while others prefer journaling at the end of the day.
Pro-tip: When picking your optimum journaling time, try attaching it to an existing habit like reading before going to bed, or before saying your morning prayers or meditation.
Personally, I attached journaling to my morning cup of warm water.
Time to start journaling. However, what do you give thanks for?
What to Give Thanks For
You’re now ready to start journaling. However, the first blank pages of your journal can be daunting.
What items do you include? How do you go about it? Do you freestyle your way and learn as you go by?
One thing to note is that gratitude journaling is a personal journey, and no one can tell you what cuts for you. However, here are some suggestions to help you map out the various things you can be grateful for.
1. Which five people are you most grateful for and why?
2. What skills and abilities are you most thankful to have?
3. Which five body parts are you most grateful for?
4. What materialistic things are you grateful to have?
5. What events of the week or day made you smile?
6. What about a challenge you’re facing are you most grateful for?
7. What do you have in your life that you didn’t have a year or several months ago?
If you’re looking for more specific examples of items you can include in your log, here are a few examples:
1. The text you received from a loved one.
2. The sunrise you enjoyed during your morning run
3. Having enough to feed, clothe and put a roof over your head.
4. Good health or the absence of pain
5. Your job
6. The smell of flowers as you walk through the park
7. Being safe during your day
8. Your friend, who was instrumental in making you smile.
This list is not exhaustive, but merely a guide to help you map pout the things to include in your journal.
Once you begin the practice and do it consistently for a week, the ideas will start coming to you naturally
Maintaining A Gratitude Journal
Now here’s the hard part.
Many people will start gratitude journaling only to give up several weeks later. However, maintaining consistency is key to enjoying the many benefits that come with keeping a thanksgiving log.
Here are a few tips to maintaining a gratitude journal:
1. Plan a specific time where you write in your gratitude journal. Most coaches will recommend the last 15 minutes before you go to bed. Set the alarm for this time and adhere to it. However, I’ve personally found that journaling in the morning to also have a positive impact on how I approach my day. Whatever time you choose, ensure you remain consistent.
2. There’s no limit to the things you can write in your gratitude journal. However, aim to write at least three things that you’re most grateful
3. Keep your gratitude journal by your nightstand so you can always remember to give thanks. Whether in the morning or evening, having your journal close to your bed will help you maintain the practice.
4. How often to write depends on you. Some people journal at the end of the week, while others (like me) make it a daily practice. Whichever frequency you choose, make sure you remain consistent.
5. You don’t have to write about grand things that happen to you. Enjoy the little wins and record them. These small blessings are what will make a huge part of your gratitude list
6. Elaborate on why you’re grateful for the items you write.
7. When you sit down to journal take your time. Don’t rush through the process.
8. Include surprises as they elicit a stronger emotional response than planned events.
Over to You Now
There you go.
All you need to know about keeping a gratitude log
Now the ball is in your court.
Will you continue living a life devoid of gratitude, or will you take up the challenge and try this simple but highly effective practice.
The decision is up to you.
Either way, let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading to the end.