A gratitude journal is a super simple, but very powerful way to create a better mindset for yourself and the life you live. It is literally the act of taking a few minutes each day, to sit down with your journal, and document a handful of things you are grateful for that given day.
You can make your gratitude journal as simple or as complex as you want.
I don’t see how you could get too terribly complex, but if that’s how it works best for you, then by all means, do what you do!
Gratitude journaling is the host to several benefits. The art of showing your gratitude has been a large part of philosophical and spiritual lives for as long as humans have been on the earth. No, they probably didn’t have the cute notebooks we have now, but the basis and power of showing thankfulness remains the same.
So, why a journal?
A journal gives us a great way to document our thanks. Documenting our gratefulness, gives us the opportunity to look back and read over previous entries to remind us of where we started or to remind us of all we have to be thankful for- good things that others do for us, our accomplishments, or even events that have taken place in our life.
The Reasons for Documenting Your Gratitude
Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits of gratitude journaling.
1. Improves Mood and Anxiety.
Did you know that our minds can only focus on so many things at once? Focusing on the good things in our lives helps redirect some of the negativity and worry we feel. Our brains are naturally negative. It is like a mode of survival so to speak. Somehow, we as society, have gotten it in our minds that remembering how someone did you wrong over someone giving you a compliment, or remembering a bad day over a good day is how we toughen up and learn to survive this mean world. Which is great in theory, I suppose, but life is not just about only surviving, it is about other things, like finding your happiness. Sometimes we have to make our own happiness. Your gratitude journal helps focus your mind and spirit on the good, on what is actually important. It also helps to remind us to focus on the people and things in our lives that bring us joy.
2. Gives you better self-esteem.
It seems that people who document their gratitude, are majorly less likely to resent others who have “more” than them. This causes us who journal our thanks, to genuinely appreciate and encourage the success or accomplishments of others, instead of comparing their situation to someone else’s. I can attest to this! One time I was, honestly, jealous of a co-workers success. Journaling has changed my views of that situation. I am now happy for them, and I no longer compare my own circumstances to another’s. I have been told over and over- ‘their time, is not your time’!
3. More optimism.
If you would have told me a key component to becoming more optimistic in life is to pick up a journal and begin writing down the things I am grateful for, I would have laughed. Like I said, I was in a negative place, and felt hopeless. Once again, I can tell you how true this is. Gratitude journaling improves your optimism. I have always been the one to have big dreams, but that is all they ever were, now I feel hope, like I can have these dreams and work towards them. I can go into my day with the optimism that we are going to have a good day, because no matter what, I have a lot to be thankful for, and will continue to find things to be thankful for!
How To Gratitude Journal
First off, I want you set attainable goals for this journal. Ideally, we want to acknowledge our gratefulness daily. However, we are all busy; super busy. Set a goal as to how often to journal, how many gratitudes to write about, and stick to it.
1. Set your goals.
Set your goals for three to five days a week, or every day. A handful of times a week works just fine for most, so don’t feel like you are not giving it your all if you just can’t make every day work for your schedule. To be honest, when I first began, journaling every day was very difficult on me because of time and also, my heart and mind were so negative. I struggled finding things to be grateful for. I remember how bad that made me feel then, so that is why I started off doing every couple of days. Looking back, I feel so sorry for that girl I use to be. I am grateful for how far I have come. To this day, there are some weeks that I only journal a couple of times, then there are some where I have entries for each day of the week. Do what works best for you!
2. Make it Quick. Morning, Evening, Lunch Time.
This should only take you about ten to fifteen minutes an entry. Unless you are like me- I write in detail, only so that when I look back to read entries, I have a lot of information to read. It doesn’t matter what time of the day that you do this. Some people like to start their mornings off on a positive note, some like to finish their day in a positive way, some of us, fit it in where we can.
3. Dedicate a journal just for this.
This means actually writing it out. Pen and paper. I suggest this, because it has been proven that while sitting and reflecting quietly on positivity is great, the best benefits, the real ones, come from the art of good old fashioned, writing. Putting our thoughts into writing maximizes the impact, deepening the feelings we already possess. If you already journal your days, I would suggest separating the two journals. You want your gratitude journal to show all the positivity. However, if you are into prayer, I think it is perfectly acceptable to combine them, part of prayer is showing your thankfulness.
4. Journal all of your thankfulness.
There is no limit of the amount of things you can write down on your daily entries. I do think some guidelines are helpful. Aim for at least three to five items for each entry. It can be brief, it can be bullet lists, or you can go into details. Just try to keep it simple, so it does not become an overwhelming chore.
5. Take this journal serious.
Be sure to write things down that you are actually thankful for, not what you think you should be thankful for. I do believe in positive reinforcement, but, if there are things you want to be thankful for, or want to learn to be appreciative of, maybe start a separate section for that, if you have time.
6. Don’t rush this process.
Take your time. If you are struggling to come up with things you are grateful for, don’t stress over it, and don’t try to rush it. It takes time to get your heart and mind in a positive setting. This task of your day is not about checking off that “to- do list” item. It is about getting your mind right, choosing to see the good in the world and in your life. Choosing to be grateful for where you’re at in life. If you can’t be happy in your present season, who says you will be happy in the next season of life?
About The Author
“Hey, ya’ll! My name is Amy, I am many things to many people, but my most important roles are daughter, wife, friend and mother, in no particular order. My full time job is in healthcare, but my other jobs include blogging, writing, and health and lifestyle coaching. I am a dreamer, a pre-workout lover, an art lover; I am book obsessed, a foodie and an avid fitness lover. You can read more about me, my articles and about my family at The Kent Krew, or follow me on Instagram to see more, too! ” – Amy Kent, The Kent Krew