It is becoming increasingly common to hear it is good to feel more gratitude, because if you focus on feeling grateful for the little things you become more grateful throughout your life which leads to happier feelings. Suggested benefits of a gratitude journal include increasing your positive view of the world, less stress and better sleep.
It is easy to focus on the negative and things we don’t like, and you may do the same with your journal writing. I was concerned about this with my own writing so I started a specific gratitude journal. It wasn’t easy to start because I was not used to thinking positively and I forgot all the “normal” things I’m grateful for such as having a house, food and good health.
I’ve written my gratitude journal for almost five years and I’ve noticed a change in my attitude and view of my life. The main difference is I now use more positive language so instead of saying I slept badly, I say I didn’t sleep well; so I’m focussing on what I want which is to sleep well. I also have a more positive view of life and I’m more aware of the good things in my life. I used a 5 year diary* which I’ll finish tonight. I love that there are just a few lines for each entry and I can look back over my entries for the previous year and build on the positivity.
Starting a gratitude journal
There is no correct way to keep a gratitude journal, but here are some suggestions to get you started:
- write a list of bullets in your usual journal, start a separate diary or notebook, write text on images or use an app
- start any day you want to, it doesn’t have to be 1st January, especially if you’re using a digital method
- write what you’re grateful for at the beginning or end of the day
- make it easy to remember to write your gratitude journal by putting it somewhere you’ll see it or set an alarm to remind you
- write about anything you’re grateful for considering people as well as things
- aim to fill the space in the journal, or write at least five points because it will encourage you to think of more things you’re grateful for
- write when you want to, it doesn’t have to be every day, in fact this article suggests the greatest benefit comes when you write no more than once a week
You may think there are some days where there were no positives, but if you think hard enough you will find them, I know because my five year journal includes my mum dying and my role being made redundant and I think actively looking for positives made it easier for me to get through these hard times. As Karin from Embrace Happy says
Not every day is good but there is good in everyday.
Tonight I will fill my gratitude diary and have decided not to start a new one because my writing in my daily diary has become more positive so this year it has felt like I’m writing the same thing in both journals. However, I still want to spend time everyday thinking about the things and people I’m grateful for, so I’m considering either creating an image listing three good things from the day, or writing a bullet list before I write my daily entry. I may even do both to start with and see which I prefer, my instinct is I’ll go with the writing one because it will be quicker and therefore I’m more likely to do it for the long term.
Although I do like the idea of putting together a picture record of my positives at the end of the year. I also want to take my writing a bit deeper and concentrate more on why I’m grateful, so instead of just saying I’m grateful for my house I’ll expand it say I’m grateful for my home because it provides shelter and security for me and my family.
Do you keep a gratitude journal? Have you thought about writing one? Or do you record the things you’re grateful for in a different way? Have you noticed a change in your language and attitude?