What is it?
Gratitude journaling has become more well-known in recent years, with pre-formatted gratitude journals now available in many shops and online. But what is gratitude journaling, and what are the benefits of it?
Gratitude journaling is simply writing a list of things that you are thankful for at the end of each day. They can be big things such as getting a promotion at work or small things like the sun being out.
Gratitude is defined as a “readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. The practice of gratitude is the practice of intentionally shifting your attention from the negative to the positive, acknowledging that even difficult and painful moments can teach us lessons.
Starting and maintaining a gratitude journal can give you a new perspective on what is important to you, what isn’t important, and what you want to do more of. After some time, you might start to see patterns, such as what you truly appreciate in life.
Gratitude has been shown to have one of the strongest links to mental wellness and satisfaction with life, more so than any other personality trait. Practicing gratitude has benefits in terms of improving the positive and keeping the negative at bay.
People who practice gratitude regularly experience higher levels of joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism. However, it also protects us from negativity such as envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness. Practicing gratitude also increases resilience in coping with everyday stress, trauma-induced stress, and recovering from illness (Emmons and Stern, 2013).
Not only that, but clinical trials have shown that practicing gratitude can even lower blood pressure, improve immune function, promote happiness and wellbeing, and spur acts of helpfulness, generosity, and co-operation. It can also reduce your lifetime risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
A study has shown that keeping a daily gratitude journal has the ability to improve alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy. Furthermore, daily gratitude journaling was shown to improve the length of sleep and sleep quality (Emmons and McCullough, 2003).
How do you start a gratitude journal?
So, as I mentioned, gratitude journaling is simply noting down the things that you are grateful for at the end of the day. Most people would suggest 3-5 things a day. Writing down what you are grateful for, rather than just thinking about it, forces you to clarify your thoughts. Setting aside the time to write down what we are thankful for each day has the potential to weave together a sustainable life theme of gratefulness. Gratefulness is a virtue, not just a transient emotion.
But there are other activities that engender a grateful mind set, such as mindfulness and meditation, activities which increase one’s focus on the relationship between the mind and the body. Gratefulness can be thought of as a mindfulness practice that has the ability to connect us with life and increase our awareness of all of life’s available benefits.
So where do I begin? Staring at a blank notebook, not knowing where to start can be intimidating and overwhelming! Luckily, there are gratitude journals with prompts in them available to buy!
One that I am currently using is the “Notes to Self” Journal and I am loving it! But there are plenty out there, so have a look around and see if there are any that suit you.
If you can’t find one that suits your style, you can always make your own journal, picking and choosing prompts from various gratitude journals.
Enjoy, and as always, experiment with what works best for you!
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