The Importance Of A Gratitude Journal

Feeling depressed, disorganized, possibly a little negative regarding certain situations in your life? A gratitude journal just might change your mindset.

Me and the sunset on the California coast in 2009

I have been experiencing some rather weird difficulty in my life recently. It’s not anything different than anyone else goes through. It’s basically just business, and when you see things a certain way, but a business partner does not, the stress that builds and is tough to deal with.

When stress starts to mount in life, it’s helpful to have someone that you can talk to, like a best friend, or for example in my life, I have my wife. I can talk through my current problems and get them all out on the table, and she can give me feedback on my thoughts and feelings. Generally on the other end of those conversations I feel better, but the stress of the actions that need to be taken is still there. That’s life right?

Quick story

A few years ago I got very interested in being more productive in life. I think at the time I was feeling a little stress around loosing some of my free time as my wife and I had a baby on the way. I was researching morning routines, productivity hacks, and mindfulness exercises to stay alert, positive, and ready for whatever life was about to serve up. I was especially turned on to the importance of journaling, and being the tech nerd that I am I started to experiment with all types of journaling apps on my smartphone.

I forced myself to journal everyday in some form or fashion, and the apps that you can use on the phone have all types of features that allow you to input photos, videos, and feeds from social media. Still to this day, I keep two different journaling apps active: Day One, and Momento.

I’m pretty solid on keeping up with a journal each day. Somedays I’ll add a photo and describe something specific about that moment. Or sometimes I’ll write about a certain event and describe my feelings regarding it so I can revisit that entry in the future.

I also heard about the positivity surrounding the efforts of writing a gratitude entry everyday. I was intrigued by the possibilities and curious how I would feel with that type of exercise, so I started trying that each day and I’m glad I did.

The Purpose Of A Gratitude Journal

From positivepsychologyprogram.com:

..Regularly journaling about the good things in your life can help prepare and strengthen you to deal with the rough patches when they pop up.

Finding a way to be thankful for things in life sounds like the right thing to do, right? Being thankful and grateful for people in life seems obvious to me because I was raised to think and feel that way in general, about people. I don’t tend to walk the Earth with a feeling of resentment towards anybody or anything in particular, but I’m human, and I can get very frustrated with day to day life, and I can get very disappointed in those around me that I don’t see eye to eye with.

From the huffingtonpost.com Arianna Huffington is quoted in this article as saying the following:

Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions. It’s like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger, and resignation.

What is it?

From Wikipedia we get this definition of a gratitude journal:

A gratitude journal is a diary of things for which one is grateful. Gratitude journals are used by individuals who wish to focus their attention on the positive things in their lives.
Gratitude, the feeling of appreciation or thanks, has gained a lot of attention in the field of positive psychology. Some studies have found that those who are habitually grateful are happier than those who are not. Furthermore, studies suggest that feelings of gratitude may even possess mental and physical health benefits. Positive psychology strives to develop methods by which one can consistently enhance gratitude levels. Furthermore, the maintenance of a gratitude journal can help relieve depressive symptoms.

I know that when I’m faced with tough life decisions, or if I’m trying to deal with negativity in my world, when I just take a few moments every morning to focus on the positive entities in my life, my expectations change for my day ahead.

There’s something about taking the time in the morning to write down my thankfulness. Those moments completely take over my thoughts. I avoid social media and the news feeds. I avoid email and task lists, and I consume my brain with gratefulness. It’s the sunset in the picture above. It’s a deep breath of fresh air. In that moment you are actively positioning your brain to think clearly and honestly.

In other words, I’m choosing to not let anything in from the negative. I’m forcing a positive mindset. And even though the reality of the world is always going to be there, at least for those moments I was in complete control of my thoughts and feelings.

From an article at berkeley.edu:

A gratitude journal forces ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life we might otherwise take for granted. In that way, we start to become more attuned to the everyday sources of pleasure around us — and the emotional tone of our life can shift in profound ways. What’s more, actually writing about these events is key: Research suggests translating thoughts into concrete language makes us more aware of them, deepening their emotional impact.

What are the benefits?

The sky becomes bluer, the sun becomes warmer, and the details are revealed behind my thoughts. I could sit here and try to describe a feeling but to be more pointed let’s review 3 specific benefits:

1) I learn a lot about myself

My life profoundly changed when I started researching how to change it. I became way more aware of the time that I was wasting each day. I started to get more things done because I implemented techniques to be more organized.

When I write a gratitude journal entry, I become increasingly cognizant of the actions that I’m taking or not taking in life to make others aware of how I feel. If I spend the time to build my awareness of the positive actions of others, I will more than likely in real life visit them and thank them for their efforts. Sometimes life moves fast, and you take your environment, and the poeple in that space for granted. Gratitude journaling forces me to think about those situations and act upon them more frequently.

I become more aware of my actions, and as I review gratitude entries from past journals I can better measure my mental growth and attitude over time.

2) Stress reduction

Stress comes from a myriad of sources in our life. I was taught from a young age to work hard to earn success. I was taught to respect people in the process and be kind to all. It’s a strange phenomenon when you want to impress and inspire those around you, but you are stressed about the actions that you have to take to be inspiring. So stress can be a positive or negative entity in your life.

I find that taking a few moments each morning to be thankful reduces the feeling of the “stressful day ahead”. Maybe you know that you are up against a great force, and you know that what you need to do will take an enormous amount of energy and focus. Take a few moments to calm yourself, be grateful for the way in which you obtained the responsibility, or the way that you were afforded the opportunity. It just takes a minute to be grateful and calm, and suddenly the daunting task at hand is just another life obstacle that you know you can beat. You become more accepting, take a deep breath, and then begin your journey of knocking it out.

3) I focus on what really matters in life

There are so many different things for us to worry about in life. Life is fragile and we tend to build up our expectations of what we want to really accomplish because we feel the need to be included, knowledgeable, and certain of our actions.

I can easily get overwhelmed trying to make so many different projects in my life happen. I became an independent musician at the end of 2016 when I quit my full-time job. My goal was to create a sustained income from several sources that would bring in enough to allow me to stay independent, yet allow me to continue to support my family. I started a personal brand, a YouTube channel, a Facebook Page, and this year I’ve added blogging on Medium as another opportunity. Sometimes, the choice of what to do each and everyday to support all of my avenues is a tough one to make.

However, gratitude journaling helps to keep the mind focused and clear. Sometimes, as I’ve been writing about a positive encounter with an individual and it strikes me that I should pay attention to what that person is doing to find the positivity that he/she bestowed on me. It’s like reverse-engeneering a thought process of what led that person to behave in a certain way.

It inspires me, and it makes me think that I should model my behavior and actions around the same pattern, so that I can find success or the happiness that that person is radiating.


Thank you for reading my post regarding the gratitude journal.

I’ve decided that I would like to continue the gratitude journal discussion in my next post. I have several methods that I’ve tried for capturing my thoughts. I use some specific apps and a little bit of automation to allow myself the least path of resistance to opening the journal and beginning my process each morning. Stay tuned!


Clap if you enjoyed this post! Be sure to check back later this week where I post about the technology that I use for gratitude journals. If you would like more from me you can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and check out my YouTube channel. Here on Medium, read more of my stories here! Thanks!