Being grateful is good for your physical and mental health, so let’s take a closer look at how to keep a gratitude journal and some tips for starting to cultivate gratitude in your life.
Did you know that being grateful is good for you?
Studies have shown that there are physical, mental health and social benefits to expressing gratitude.
Which is why today we’re talking about how to keep a gratitude journal as well as sharing some tips to get you started.
Why is it Good to be Grateful?
Robert Emmons is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude and in a series of studies his team have helped people to cultivate gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal.
The participants experienced psychological benefits such as feeling happier and more optimistic as well as more alert and alive.
From a physical perspective they slept better, exercised more and had stronger immune systems.
And from a social perspective they felt less lonely and isolated and more compassionate and forgiving of others.
With so many benefits to consider it’s hard to think why we wouldn’t want to cultivate gratitude right?
You can find out more about Emmons’ studies and his advice for cultivating gratitude in his book: Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.
This video (though a little bit dated) is also worth a watch. Its aimed at teaching children to express gratitude but the methods are useful for us grown ups too.
How to Keep a Gratitude Journal
One of the simplest ways to start being intentionally grateful is to keep a gratitude journal. To get started you will need:
Writing implements: You could simply use a black pen or pencil to document your gratitude, or you might choose to be creative and use colored pens, washi tape and stickers.
Different colored pens or pencils as well as different styles can make your gratitude journal not just a record of thanks but also a really creative endeavor.
Notebook: While you could use a piece of paper, keeping a special notebook for your gratitude journal ensures that you will know exactly where you are writing and allows you to review previous gratitude records.
Your notebook can be as plain and simple as a composition book or you could splash out on one with a decorative cover.
Time Alone: By taking time out away from disturbances you are giving yourself space to think, relax and write. You’ll also find that you enjoy the experience of being alone and celebrating those things you are thankful for.
Now you know what you need it’s time to discover how to do it.
Find a quiet spot
Find somewhere quiet and that you know you won’t be disturbed. Your journaling time should be a time for reflection and celebration free from outside distractions for the best results.
Fully commit to the experience
Ensure you are committed to gratitude journaling and that you want to feel happier as well as more grateful as a result.
There is no point in just going through the motions of journaling without creating a positive meaningful emotional experience.
Start with a simple list
When you first start writing in your gratitude journal it might feel a little forced. An easy way to start is to brainstorm a short list of things you are grateful for.
Over time though you will relax into the process and start to really think about what you are grateful for and how you write about it in your journal.
Write about events and occasions
Take time to write about a particular event and describe in detail why you are thankful for it. Remember to record how you felt and why.
Think about the people you are grateful for
Try to include people you are thankful for as much as you can, not just events. By including specific people and the reasons you are thankful for them you will create a greater emotional impact because it becomes more personal.
Don’t forget about the surprises
Include surprises and unexpected events as these will create a stronger sense of gratitude and more significant emotional impact.
Make a date with your gratitude journal
Set yourself a weekly date to write in your gratitude journal.
While you could journal every day it may be more beneficial to create a habit of writing in your gratitude journal once a week. This will allow you to plan for it and enjoy it.
There are no right or wrong ways to keep a gratitude journal. Everyone’s will be different. However, it is important that you are committed to the process and the outcome, as well as make time for it on a regular basis.