How to start a Gratitude Journal
Do you often see the cup as half empty, not half full?
I wrote previously about how the power of gratitude changed my life. It could change yours too. Today’s post is about how you can increase your positivity by learning how to start a gratitude journal.
What I love most about gratitude journals is that it doesn’t matter how much money you earn or how big your house is. Positivity is not dependent on material wealth. It depends upon us noticing the good stuff we already have.
Benefits of a gratitude journal
Gratitude is basically stopping every now and then to appreciate what you already have. Often, we’ll only feel the gratitude later … such as being grateful for the amazing job your teeth have been doing once you get a toothache.
The research shows that gratitude is not only good for increasing happiness but also for your physical health. Being thankful improves sleep quality, lessens pain, reduces blood pressure,
reduces stress and gets you to exercise more often, as Professor Emmons describes here.
Even when you are going through a troubling time, if you show gratitude it can reduce psychological distress.
How can I be more grateful?
Starting a gratitude journal takes just minutes and, if it becomes a regular part of your routine, it can have life-changing consequences.
How to start a gratitude journal:
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED
A pen or pencil
A piece of paper or notebook
As a self-confessed stationery addict, this is the most difficult part of starting a gratitude journal for me. I can spend hours and hours in stores that contain pens, colored pencils, stickers, journals and all kinds of associated knick-knacks. I should remind you though, that a pen (yes, any pen or pencil) and a piece of paper (yes, ANY piece of paper or notebook) will suffice.
- Now, it’s time to settle in with your pen and paper and decide how many items you want to be grateful for. I would encourage you to go for a number between 3-10.
- Date the paper (I like to be able to look back over my gratitude journals). I’m in good company, you can watch Oprah reading out her gratitude journal here.
- Think about one thing you are grateful for and put your words on paper. Reflect on WHAT it is and WHY you are thankful for it. Then move on to the next thing you are grateful for. Keep going until you have 3-10 items on your list. Although it should be more of a group of sentences rather than a simple list of one-word items.
- Do not censor yourself or think you have to include certain things you should be grateful for. This is your journal, no one else’s. Write it as though no-one else will read it. Gratitude is a very private exercise. (Unless you write it on a public wall as Coventry University does, see #gratitudewall).
- Consider writing about a variety of things. If you get into a routine of writing about the same thing you are grateful for every week, you’re not really considering the wide range of blessings in your life. You could concentrate on themes to help you such as relationships, home comforts, your abilities etc.
- Repeat the following day or up to a week later. Recent research has shown that it does not need to be a daily gratitude journal to feel the benefits.
If you like, you can watch my tutorial video where you can follow along with me as I write 5 things I am grateful for. The prompts will help you get gratitude journal ideas.
Don’t push it. If you are not enjoying the process of writing a gratitude journal, do not force yourself! That goes against the principles of positive psychology. There are other ways of expressing your gratitude that may be more enjoyable for you. I touch on a few of these other techniques here.
I hope you find yourself seeing the cup as half-full after following these steps. And, if you’re feeling grateful it won’t matter if that cup is full of Starbuck’s latte, hot chocolate or just plain old water.
I’d love it if you’d follow my Gratitude board on Pinterest or pin this blog post for later!