Are you looking for inspiration to keep your thoughts positive now we’re approaching (what some people consider to be) the most stressful time of year? A gratitude journal is a great way to keep thankful and in a positive state of mind. And it’s an easy and enjoyable way of boosting happiness.
Studies have shown a range of benefits from the simple act of writing down the things for which we are grateful. Consciously focusing on what we feel and expressing our gratitude means we will start to notice the positive people and events in our lives that we might otherwise take for granted. It allows us to see the meaning of those events and creates meaning in our lives. Training our brain in this way strengthens relationships because we acknowledge how we’re supported and affirmed by others in our lives.
What are the benefits of gratitude journalling?
- improved health
- improved sleep
- a strengthened connection with others
- satisfaction in relationships
- joy and optimism
- less anxiety
When should you journal?
There’s no evidence that journaling at the start of the day is any more effective than journaling before you go to bed. Some people might find that the end of the day is better, reflecting on the day that’s coming to an end. Others may find it helpful at the start of the day, beginning the day in a positive frame of mind. You should journal whenever it’s suitable for YOU. Try keeping it to the same time of day to strengthen the habit.
Once you’ve chosen the best time that suits your day, set a reminder on your phone or schedule in your calendar.
Don’t hurry through the time you set aside for your gratitude journaling as if it were just another item on your to-do list. Keeping a gratitude journal should not be seen as a chore and something that you should do. This is counterproductive to fostering those positive thoughts. This time is special for you to show your gratitude for everything you have experienced in your day.
What if I get stuck for something to write?
There’s nothing wrong with being thankful for the basic things in your life but make sure you write down WHY you are grateful. I am grateful for ___________, because ________________.
Ask yourself “What am I grateful for today? Why am I grateful for this? Why did this good thing happen?”
Try to avoid being thankful for the same things each day. This will get harder but your awareness and thankfulness will grow. Challenge yourself to find new things to be thankful for that you’ve never noticed before.
It takes approximately 21 days for something new to become an established ‘habit.’ The synaptic pathways in our brains get used to those signals and the pathway becomes stronger as time passes.
For the next 7 days, journal 3 things you have been grateful for in your day. Increase this to 5 things for the following 7 days and the remaining 7 days write between 5-10 things you are grateful for. Don’t panic if you find it difficult. Don’t give up! Remember, it takes 21 days to establish a new pattern/habit. Persevere and you’ll find the process becomes a normal part of your day.
Keeping a gratitude journal isn’t just for adults. Studies have shown that the positive effects for children aged 11 who keep a gratitude journal (counting one’s blessings) are enhanced gratitude, optimism, life satisfaction and the children experience a noticeable decrease in negativity. Perhaps you would like to get your children involved too. Studies also show that children cope much better through their schooling too. A great habit to get into!
Journaling your gratitude is most effective if you make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. Make that decision today and experience for yourself the difference your positive thoughts and feelings will have towards your approach to life. I’ve created simple journal pages that you can use to start you off so there’s no excuse!
Your positive attitude will help you survive in the most challenging of situations.