Imagine how it would feel starting every day in a positive mood, energized, ready to take on the world. Instead of mentally replaying all your life’s problems and pulling the covers over your head, you chose to take control of your mind and focus on the good.
Day by day you appreciate life more and find yourself feeling happier. Stop rolling your eyes. It is not that crazy of a concept. Today, we will show you how to use a gratitude journal.
Gratitude Journal Benefits Based on Science
According to Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, the leading researchers on Gratitude, their research on gratitude journaling has shown benefits such as:
- Greater connection to others
- Increased personal joy
- Better Sleep
- Exercising more regularly
- Lowering symptoms of physical pain
On a subconscious level, gratitude journaling helps counterbalance our negativity bias.
If someone compliments your new haircut or outfit, you will likely not remember it beyond the moment in question. If someone disses your style, however, you will likely remember it forever.
Criticizing and focusing on problems comes easily. For most of us, appreciation and focusing on the good takes effort. By keeping a gratitude journal, you develop a practice that keeps you accountable to developing appreciation and enjoying happier days.
Translating thoughts into concrete language—whether oral or written—has advantages over just thinking the thoughts: It makes you more aware, deepening the emotional impact.
In Emmons and McCullough’s study, they found that:
Writing a Gratitude Journal will make being grateful as natural as breathing. It just happens without you realizing. It is like using a toothbrush, daily, for your mind.
Starting and maintaining a journal can be difficult at first because it is another thing to remember to do, but after a while of keeping a gratitude journal, I promise you it’s worth it! Keep doing it every night until it becomes a habit. Luckily, writing in your gratitude journal won’t feel like a chore because it’s a peaceful time to just sit and write about all the things that you are thankful for. The words will flow from you and 15 minutes just might turn into 30.
The best time to start a gratitude journal is now. These are the incredible benefits associated with journaling, and because maintaining a journal can be challenging, I share the tips that work best for me:
Benefits of a Gratitude Journal
1. Lower stress levels.
2. Feel calm at night.
3. Gain a new perspective of what is important to you and what you truly appreciate in your life.
4. By noting what you are grateful for, you will gain clarity on what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can cut from you life.
5. Helps you focus on what really matters.
6. Keeping a gratitude journal helps you learn more about yourself and become more self-aware.
7. Your gratitude journal is a safe zone for your eyes only, so you can write anything you feel without judgment.
8. On days when you feel blue, read back through your gratitude journal to readjust your attitude and remember that you have great people and things in your life.
Maintaining a Gratitude Journal
1. Plan to write in your gratitude journal every night for 15 minutes before bed. Set an alarm reminder on your phone or schedule it in your calendar. I’ve found that it is easier to write at night so that I can include things that I am grateful for from that day.
2. Keep your gratitude journal by your nightstand so you will see it before going to sleep and remember to jot down what you are thankful for. Your journal may even become a symbol of gratitude so that when you just look at it, you will feel a sense of appreciation.
3. Write as many things as you want in your gratitude journal. Writing down 5-10 things that you are grateful for each day is a good number to aim for.
4. Your gratitude journal doesn’t have to be deep. What you are thankful for can be as simple as “family” or “the new book or movie I recently enjoyed” or “this morning’s breakfast.” What you are grateful for will differ from everyone else.
5. The timing of when you want to write is up to you. While I try to write in my gratitude journal every night, sometimes it becomes every other night. That’s okay. Journal when it feels right for you — the benefits really are worth it.