Gratitude Journal

Gratitude Journal (What is, Benefits, What to write, Step by Step Guide)

In Mind Science by Chris A. Parker

A gratitude journal is an effective tool that allows you to enjoy the positive benefits of gratitude in your brain and body. Showing gratitude entails affirming and acknowledging the good things that happen to us and the roles others play in enriching our lives. 

What does Gratitude Journal mean?

A gratitude journal, in essence, is a record of all things for which you are thankful. By keeping track of all the good things that happen to you, you can maintain a positive outlook on life despite stressful situations.

In a gratitude journal, you record both the significant positive things and what may appear insignificant. In doing so, it reminds you, even when things seem to go against what you are expecting, that there is plenty for which you should be grateful. 

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Gratitude Journal Benefits 

There are tangible benefits that come with having and maintaining a gratitude journal. Here are the five main benefits of a gratitude journal. 

1. It helps reduce stress.

A gratitude journal promotes a feeling of satisfaction and contentment, which is a natural prevention of stress. Being grateful allows you to take better care of yourself, which allows you to handle stress better. You are also grounded and resilient; thus, you can better handle life’s anxieties and other setbacks.

2. It makes you happier.

Keeping a journal allows you to acknowledge the goodness happening in your life. As you write down the things you are grateful for, you elicit positive emotions in your mind, which allows you to lead a happier life where you can build robust relationships and value good experiences.

3. It helps improve self-esteem.

Keeping a gratitude journal keeps you aware and focused on your achievements. As a result, there are fewer comparisons with others, and you will not be resentful of other people’s achievements.

4. Aids in the quality of your sleep

The minutes spent writing and being thankful before you sleep help you focus on the positive experiences of the day. In turn, you are less likely to focus on the anxieties and worries facing you and instead have a clear and peaceful mind, which is necessary for deep and quality sleep.

5. Improves your positivity 

A gratitude journal is a crucial resource in positive psychology. Writing down what you are grateful for gives you an optimistic view of life. You give power to the positive things and not the negative ones. It also makes these positive aspects real and concrete in your subconscious mind.

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What Should I write in a Gratitude Journal?

Writing in your gratitude journal involves more than just listing items and memories. You have to think through the preceding period and identifying events and moments that positively impacted you.

You should attach emotions to the points you are writing to create a permanent association of gratitude and the positive thing that happened.

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Gratitude Journal Prompts

Writing in your journal can seem daunting, and you may even wonder where to start. Be humble to identify even the small positive things that you have or happen to you. Some gratitude journal prompts to help you include the following;

  • Write about your favorite moment of the day for each of the days you will be journaling, describing it in detail, and why you are grateful for it.
  • Write about acts of kindness you received randomly from people, whether family friends or strangers. These acts can be both grand or simple ones.
  • Write about a breakthrough you had or progress you made in your endeavors describing how you feel.
  • Write about something you did to make someone or several people happy.
  • Write about your favorite person and qualities that make you like him or her.
  • Write about the blessings and favors you have in your life.
  • Make a journal entry for each of the ten things you like about yourself.
  • Write about things that cheer you up when down and what you like about them. 
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Example of a gratitude journal

A gratitude journal should include entries from both happy and successful days and those with several setbacks. If you are doing entries three times a week, your gratitude journal may look like this;

Tuesday
● I managed to pay my rent today quite early, avoiding late fee payments. I am grateful to have been in a position to do so and the calmness it has brought.
 
● It was awesome speaking to my dad today. He is in good health, and we had a great chat going through memories and planning a couple of future projects. This conversation was one of my day's highlights.
 
● I was a little late to my work this morning; fortunately, my co-worker covered me for those ten minutes, so I did not fall behind.
Thursday
● I am thankful that the day is finally over, it has been one of my most difficult ones, but tomorrow brings the opportunity for a better day.
● After such a demanding and tiring day, it is great I can sit on my balcony and enjoy the beautiful sunsets. They are really beautiful and soothing.
● There was a long queue at the mall today, and while it took most of my time, it made me reconsider some of my purchases, and I am grateful for that time since I was able to pick only the items I needed.

You may also have a mixed day, in which case you will have both lows and downs, and your journal could reflect this.

Saturday 
● That was one of the worst dates I have ever been to; it was emotionally draining, but I am glad it warned me early enough, and I was able to put to an end to what could have been a toxic relationship.
● I helped a young mother with her groceries and children today. Her smiles and words of gratitude were very uplifting, and it gladdened my heart to have positively impacted another person today.

How to Get Started with Your Gratitude Journal

If you are stuck with how to proceed or get started with your gratitude journal, here are instructions to help you.

Select your journal

You have several options ranging from using your personal computer, a smartphone app, or you may prefer writing it down on pen and paper. The option you pick depends on your preferences since a smartphone app or tablet may offer more convenience, yet some studies have shown writing down to be more effective.

Set Aside Time for Writing

You need to have a set time for journaling where you will be free and be uninterrupted. Either morning or before you sleep works just fine. 

Write down about what you are grateful for

Start with five things you are grateful for and focus more on the depth of what you are writing rather than writing superficial lists. 

Take a few minutes to enjoy the positive emotions.

You have to view the good things given as gifts since this attitude prevents you from taking them for granted. Take time to savor and cherish these gifts feeling the positive emotions aroused.

Write regularly

You will need to make keeping a journal a regular habit if you have to reap the benefits. Commit to a regular number of times weekly and start small to lessen the difficulty.

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gratitude journal
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When should I write in a Gratitude Journal?

Your gratitude journal is slightly different from your usual journal or diary since you do not have to update it daily. In fact, doing it about three times a week provides more benefits than doing it daily. This result may seem counterintuitive initially, but it all has to do with how our brain works.

Writing regularly has the side-effect of making you feel numb to the daily sources of gratitude. On the other hand, having a few days before writing it leaves room for surprises, which cause stronger gratitude feelings.

It should not be a hurried process, so you should take at least 15 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on the various events that have happened to you up to that stage.

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Tips for Keeping A Gratitude Journal

Find What Works for You

You may have to try out different options to find which one suits you best in terms of convenience and effectiveness. Such options include; when to write, the duration, which type of journal to use, and the regularity.

Do not rush

Updating a gratitude journal should not be rushed. You need enough time to go through your days and write in-depth. It is a time of reflection, and you need to take time and appreciate the emotions elicited.

Keep it diligently until it becomes a habit.

Updating the gratitude journal has to become a habit for you to rework your brain into noticing the positive things that are always happening to you. If you do not write regularly, you will not see the changes nor develop the attitude of being grateful.

Don’t overdo it.

Just as you want to make it a habit, there is risk and even harm in overdoing your gratitude journal. You may end up developing a numbness to the small positive things that happen to you and miss out on the positive effects of surprises. There is also a risk of being superficial and creating lists where you are just going through the motions. 

A gratitude journal should be a personal expression for what and whom you are thankful. Once you find what works for you and keep doing it regularly, you will develop a positive outlook towards life.

Make it a quality time where you are honest and intentional in all you are doing, and you stand to reap both physical and emotional wellbeing benefits.

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