Looking into the benefits of starting a gratitude journal?
A few years ago I was inspired to start a gratitude journal.
It all started because I found myself going to sleep completely stressed out from a long day of work/motherhood/domestic life etc.
In the mornings, instead of feeling refreshed, I’d be stressed all over again at the simple thought of another stressful day ahead of me.
And when my day started off wrong, it seemed to trickle into every aspect of life.
I needed to be in a better mood. I wanted to feel joy in the morning, not soul-sucking stress.
That’s where keeping a gratitude journal came into play!
My Experience Using a Gratitude Journal
I once read a quote that said something to the effect of: To get more of what you want in life, you’ve got to show gratitude for what you already have.
That statement really had an impact on me because I realized that part of my problem was that I nearly ALWAYS focused on what was going wrong in my life:
I’m exhausted from raising toddlers…
I’m tired of doing the same ole, same ole at my job…
I don’t have enough friends…
Laundry is the bane of my existence…
We don’t have enough money for the things I want to buy…
and the list went on and on.
It was such a weird feeling for me to suddenly become aware that I was a habitual complainer and that my general outlook on life had become rather negative.
This was especially hard for me because I’d always considered myself an optimistic person. For the first time in my life, that seemed like a false statement.
I’d morphed into the grumpy mama/wife I never in a million years imagined I would be.
So, my weapon of choice to fight against this change became GRATITUDE.
Before I went to bed at night, I focused my thoughts on things that I was grateful for that day like:
- My gratitude for a reliable car that allowed me to get to and from work each day.
- Appreciation for a steady job.
- Gratitude for a supportive husband who wants me to be happy.
Then, in the mornings, I would take it a step further by actually writing out those things and others that I thought of in my journal.
I would then repeat a few of those things to myself throughout the day when negative thinking started to creep in.
Gratitude became my own Jedi mind trick and it worked!
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5 Reasons to Keep a Gratitude Journal
What I discovered in the process of keeping a gratitude journal is that there are a ton of reasons to start one.
1. It can actually help you sleep better! When I wrote in my gratitude journal and focused on the things that I was thankful for, I found it much easier over time for me to fall asleep. Even my dreams were less weird and less frantic which generally meant a better night of rest.
2. It reduces your stress levels. Focusing on things in your life that bring you joy or contentment helps your body and your mind to fight stress naturally. Gratitude helps you to manage your stress in a much healthier way.
3. It gives you clarity on what’s important. When you take the time to focus on and write about things that you are grateful for, it can really start to put your life into perspective. You can begin to draw a more clearly defined line between the non-essentials and what really matters to you.
4. It prepares you for challenges. Inevitably, you will face life challenges that spring up out of nowhere! Intentionally practicing gratitude and keeping a gratitude journal keeps you grounded. It’s a reminder that if something goes wrong, it’s not the end of the world.
5. It improves your relationships. Like I said above, my focus on what I was lacking turned me into a grumpy person who was not really a joy to be around. Using gratitude helped me to improve my emotional health and be a happier, less-stressed-out mom, wife, friend, and employee.
How to Start Your Gratitude Journal
There is no wrong way to get started with a gratitude journal. You can simply grab a notebook or some index cards and start writing the things you are grateful for!
I really enjoyed reading this article from UC Berkley with general tips on how to start a gratitude journal. It basically emphasizes that you should be very specific in your journal writing, get personal, and write regularly (without overdoing it). There’s also a gratitude quiz that can help you cultivate even more gratitude in your life.
If you’d like some guidance and a little structure as you get started, you may enjoy my book The Daily Gratitude Journal. It’s a simple, affordable journal that helps you implement my method of writing 3 things daily that you are grateful to have. The journal also gives you a few gratitude themes for guidance and there are even affirmation cards that you can cut out of the book for extra inspiration 🙂
Regardless of the type of journal you choose, the important thing is to put it to good use! Make it a habit to write in your gratitude journal daily for at least a couple of weeks.
Writing in your journal consistently will help those thoughts of gratitude and the positive feeling that results become second nature.
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