How do you start a gratitude journal? Why is it a good idea?
Journaling may seem easy, after all, it’s just writing things down. Yet, you may wonder what to write? Is there an optimum time of day? How often do you need to journal to get the best outcome? How do you get started?
I began gratitude journaling many years ago. Going through a tough time at work, searching for tools to cope better, I read somewhere about the benefits of focusing on gratitude. I began to list 5 things I was grateful for every day – in the morning on the way to work and, also, on my way home in the evenings. I was so excited at the positive mindset change that happened, I told some friends, and to this day, they still use gratitude as a tool to relieve stress and to feel better.
Use a notebook or journal that you enjoy writing in. Maybe it has a nice cover, you like the paper – perhaps it’s the only one you can find right now! How to start – simply begin. Write down what you’re grateful for – list three to five things.
A laugh with a colleague A lovely hot shower this morning
A delicious breakfast Bumping into a friend for a chat
Your morning run Sunshine today
Within a short time, expressing gratitude can become a habit. This habit takes very little time from your day. If you’d like to start appreciating life again, make your hard times easier – if you know you’d benefit from a more positive mindset, try gratitude journaling and see for yourself the outcome.
There are no rules other than writing down what you’re grateful for. You may prefer to journal in the morning. Evening will suit others. And, you can write down what you’re grateful for as many times a day as you like.
How to ensure your gratitude journal is more effective and delivers you maximum benefits:
- If you journal in the morning, take a moment to re-read through your list and experience the good feelings that arrive when you focus on what you’re grateful for. This sets you up to approach your day more positively and you’ll achieve more with less stress.
- Unwind; calm your mind by journaling about gratitude each evening, thus helping you sleep better.
- Recapture and luxuriate in moments of joy because writing down what you’re grateful for reminds you of happy occasions
- Create habits that improve your life by noticing patterns that emerge after a few weeks of journaling. You may list every day that you’re grateful for an outdoor walk or run. Use this knowledge to ensure you fit this activity into your life as often as you need to. If you have a challenging job and you have listed times when you feel good at work – do more of this type of work. If you notice that a coffee at a certain time of day, a hug or a bath, regularly pop up in your gratitude lists, take note. Your brain is sending you a signal to do more of these things.
- Re-read your gratitude lists. Because being grateful helps to quickly change your mindset from feeling down about what’s bothering you, to thinking positively about what’s good in your life, re-reading your lists reinforces this mindset change. If you’re someone who’s hard on yourself when things go wrong, here’s the good news: when you feel gratitude, you’re not beating yourself up; your mind is in a different place, a better place, where you can start to build resilience.
Gratitude and Resilience: The Connection
This quote from Rachel Hartman’s young adult novel Seraphina always makes me smile: Did I become court composer through masterful procrastination? Hardly! There’s no doubt about it, to be good at anything—even gratitude—means taking action. No matter what skill you want to improve, you’ll need to find space in your life to continue your practice from time to time. Creating your own gratitude journal offers a great return on investment because of the many wellness benefits it delivers.
Life is complex. It can be tough. No matter how successful you are, life is full of challenges. Whether it’s in the area of health, career, relationships—anything—life has its ups and downs. Some people cope well, others not so well. Those who are the most resilient do best. The good news is that resilience is a character trait that can be learned. Starting a gratitude journal is a key step.
When you notice you’re being hard on yourself and feeling that you can’t cope. Stop. Take a few breaths. List in your mind or write in your journal, five things you’re grateful for today.