So, what’s a blog on gratitude without an entry on how to start a gratitude journal? Before technology became the norm, taking pen to paper to write a diary of your thoughts was a very normal thing to do. Today, with cell phones, computers, and our fast-paced multi-tasking lives, many people don’t seem to have or make time to document their thoughts.
Gratitude journaling is underappreciated but its benefits are manifold. Writing down expressions of gratitude regularly has been found to improve sleep and strengthen relationships with family, friends and acquaintances. Journaling also improves productivity, decreases anxious thoughts, encourages positivity and benefits mental health.
If you would like to give it a try, here are some tips to start:
- Be Specific
Describe in detail what it is that you are grateful for. You can start off by writing the words, “I am grateful for…” followed by “because….”. You can even expand with your feelings, smells, anything visual that touched your heart when you felt the gratitude.
- Say it, Mean it, Feel it
Journaling gratitude shouldn’t be a chore, meaning you shouldn’t force it. Try to change your mindset to one of gratitude and really think about what you were appreciative of that day.
- Pick a day to Review Your Journal
As mentioned in the Gratitude Jar post, having a Gratitude Day where you review your writing will increase your positive feelings and helps solidify the new practice. Mark your calendar once a month or any time that works for you and use that day to read a few entries.
- Gratitude Challenge
If you don’t know what to write about, a great way to kick off journaling gratitude is to take a 30-day gratitude challenge. We invite you to give ours a try here – 30-Day Gratitude Challenge II.
- Make it a Habit
Since this is a new experience, some days you might want to go back to life before gratitude journaling. Stick with it until it becomes a habit. In a study by the University College London, a habit takes an average of 66 days to form.
- Focus on People
Sometimes, writing about people can draw out stronger feelings of gratitude. You can write about someone close to you or someone who doesn’t always get their deserved appreciation, like a server at your favorite restaurant or a hardworking teacher.
- Focus on the Positive
It’s a gratitude journal, not an attitude journal. Try and transform any negative thoughts or challenges into something positive or a lessons learned. Think about what life might be like without some things you are grateful for.
- Make it Fun
If you like being creative, gratitude journaling doesn’t have to only be about writing. You can attach movie ticket stubs to remember a great time with someone, a fallen flower from your walk in the park to remind you of a beautiful day, pictures from the day you were proud of a big accomplishment. Attach anything you are grateful for in the journal.
- Journal regularly
Everyone has a busy schedule so setting an alarm on your phone, calendar or email can help remind you that it’s time to write a journal entry. Make sure you set aside time where you can write undisturbed.
You don’t have to spend hours on each journal entry. Five minutes a day or once a week is better than none. Don’t be too strict about gratitude journaling, there are no real rules. Just have fun with it and be mindful everyday of what you can be grateful for. 🙂