What is a gratitude journal and how to start one
Life can get pretty hectic. You’re running from meeting to meeting in the office and then from social to social event on the weekend.You have to remember to pick up your dry cleaning, clean your house and take the dog out for a walk. It can be exhausting trying to handle a never ending to-do list and it’s draining mentally.
Gratitude and gratitude journaling offer a great way to reset yourself mentally after a long day to stop and appreciate the smaller things in your day. It draws your attention away from the negative memories of the day and instead focuses on the positive memories of the day. Maybe you ordered your favourite quinoa chickpea salad or you got some positive feedback from your boss, practicing gratitude helps to bring that to the front of your mind and appreciate it.
So what do we know about gratitude:
Gratitude is the simple act of appreciating what someone else has done for you or something that has happened during your day or week. It’s as simple as appreciating your lunch or appreciating being able to sit at home in a nice warm house but according to Robert Emmons, it’s one of the most ignored virtues.
The health benefits of practising gratitude are being studied around the world and show the positive impact it can have on your life. Researchers have found that people who kept a gratitude journal were more likely to achieve their goals, report fewer physical symptoms and feel more optimistic about their lives as a whole.
What is a gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal is a simple place to keep all the things you are happy and grateful for in life. It can be a brand new journal that you bought especially for being a gratitude journal or it can be an old notepad that you found. The point being a gratitude journal doesn’t need to be a specific type of journal, it is more the act of writing out your gratitude that is important.
How to start a gratitude journal
1. Find your journal
Before you start your gratitude journal, you need to find the journal, notebook, or page that is going to become your gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is a personal preference. You can opt for a traditional blank page journal or you can buy a specific gratitude journal, the choice is always yours. There are also some really great digital journals like Day One, which make it easy to keep a journal on your phone.
The benefit of having a specific journal for writing your gratitude in is that it keeps all your thoughts in one place and makes it easy to look back on your writing.
2. Pick a time that works for you
Consistency is key to creating a new habit and making it stick. Picking a time in your day that works for you will make it easier for you to begin writing a gratitude journal and sticking to it. We suggest you pick a 15 minute time slot that works for you. This gives you time to start writing but is also manageable to do during the day.
3. Pick out some Journal prompts to help you
Starting a gratitude journal can be daunting, what are you meant to write about, how do you write about it. Gratitude journals are personal and everyone has a different style of writing them. We really like using Gratitude prompts to help us get started. Once you’ve used a few journal prompts you can begin to learn what you like, what you like and don’t like. Here are some of our favourite Gratitude Prompts:
1. What was the highlight of your day
2. What made you smile today
3. What are you looking forward to this week
4. Describe a moment when you were happy
5. Describe one of your favourite moments from the past year
6. What opportunity do you have now that you didn’t have a year ago
4. Don’t be hard on yourself
Starting a new habit is always hard and we’re not always going to be good at it at the start. Be gentle with yourself, if you are struggling to write a gratitude journal, take it slow. Try just writing about one thing you’re grateful for and slowly increasing it.
We often end up giving up on new habits because we get frustrated at not being good enough from the start or not feeling the benefits straight away. Take for example when you start off at the gym, after the first week you never see the immediate effect on your body, all you feel is sore muscles but you keep going back. After a few months of training, you can begin to see the changes. It’s the same with keeping a gratitude journal, it will take time to feel the full effects but once you do, there will be no turning back.
5. Get descriptive
The more descriptive you are, the more you can feel the emotion. One of the best ways to get benefit out of keeping a gratitude journal is to describe the memory in detail. Describe the scene, the people, the emotions. This will trigger your memory and allow you to feel the full emotion.
Also writing about why you are grateful for that memory. Are you grateful because it made you happy? Because it made you proud? Because it helped you to grow?
6. Keep your journal near your bedside
As we mentioned earlier, building a new habit is all about consistency and making it easy to achieve. Placing it beside your bedside means that you will see it when you wake up and when you’re going to sleep. This will remind you to write in it at least once a day and make it easy for you to stick to it.
Keeping a gratitude journal seems daunting at first. The benefits of gratitude are numerous including feeling less stressed, reaching our goals and feeling overall more optimistic. Keeping a gratitude journal is developing a new habit and routine in your lifestyle. It way seem hard at first but once you create the habit it will be hard to break. So grab a tea and get started!