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Gratitude is simply appreciating the good things in your life. It does not always seem simple, though. When things are hectic or stressful, finding the positive can be particularly challenging. I know that over the last few weeks I have been struggling to find the positive in each day. However, studies have shown that learning how to embrace gratitude can significantly boost your mental and physical health. One way of expressing gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal.
What are the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal?
Gratitude journals can benefit you in big ways if you keep one for the long term and use it regularly. Some of the benefits include:
- Experiencing stronger and more fulfilling relationships
- Becoming physically healthier
- Increasing your mental ability
- Feeling less aggression in your life
- Acting and becoming more empathetic
- Getting more restful sleep
- Getting more done every day
- Feeling better about yourself
You might also like: Journaling 101 – Benefits of journaling for mental health
What are gratitude journals?
Gratitude journals are a mixture of traditional journal and bullet journal. They are not really meant to be full-blown journal entries. Instead, they focus on specific moments or events in your day that you can feel grateful for. You do not need to elaborate on them. You simply find the good in each day. The key to this journal is to use a bullet style to mark off each event or gratitude and to reflect on those at the end of the day.
How to set yourself up for gratitude journaling.
Find somewhere quiet and that you know you will not be disturbed. For the best results, your journaling time should be a time for reflection and free from outside distractions.
Ensure you are committed to gratitude journaling and that you want to feel happier as well as more grateful as a result. There is no point in just going through the motions of journaling without creating a positive emotional experience.
Try to include people you are thankful for as much as you can, not just events. By including specific people and the reasons you are thankful for them you will create a greater emotional impact and it becomes more personal.
Set yourself a weekly date to write in your gratitude journal. While you could journal every day, it may be more beneficial to create a habit of writing in your gratitude journal once a week. This will allow you to plan for it and enjoy it. I used to write in my gratitude journal daily but found it hard to find something every day to write so I changed to weekly. Sometimes I’ll just write one thing I am grateful for, sometimes it might be ten, it all depends on the week I am having.
You might also like: Stream of Consciousness Journaling
What happens if you cannot find anything to grateful for?
When I first started keeping a gratitude journal, I found it hard after the first few days to find anything to be grateful for that I had not already written down. That was until I started the 21-Day Gratitude Meditation Challenge from Live the Life You Love (see video below). It is a guided meditation that help creates a calming space to aid in finding things you are grateful for. I found after about a week I was able to find more things to be grateful for. And, as an added benefit, after each session my anxiety levels and stress had decreased because of the effects of the meditation in general. https://www.youtube.com/embed/xfD4HaBBc0I
There are no right or wrong ways to keep a gratitude journal. Everyone’s will be different. However, it is important that you are committed to the process and the outcome, as well as make time for it on a regular basis.
If you want more information about bringing gratitude into your life check out these books by Robert A. Emmons. I have looked at a lot of different books about gratitude and found that these three were the most intriguing to read.
To get you started on your gratitude journaling journey I have created a free printable gratitude sheet. Click on the image to download the freebie.