Journaling 2: Gratitude Journaling
Turning Gratitude Into a Skill. Gratitude is often looked over as a skill for well-being and healthy emotional intelligence. Thinking of gratitude, most people imagine someone having an overwhelming abundance of prosperity in their life, and like most things, people wait for accomplishments in order to start being grateful.
But that’s actually wrong. As humans, we always strive to move forward and achieve the next thing on our list. Unless you’re depressed, the chances are that you won’t be happy once you meet your goals simply because it’s in our nature to strive for more. We tend to get more happiness out of the expectation than the achievement.
Things Can Always Be Worse
When was the last time you celebrated the fact that you’re simply alive? Or the morning sun? Or that someone smiled at you on your way to work this morning. Small things like these, when thought of deliberately, can help you start noticing positive patterns in the world. So remember – Whatever situation you’re in, good or bad, that too shall pass!
Gratitude Expressed On Paper
As explored in the first part of this article series, if we want to get better at something or understand an idea, we need to write it down. The thing we want to get better at here is recognizing the beauty in the world and to train ourselves to be happy. This is where gratitude journaling comes in. Gratitude journaling is a recollection and an archive of all those small moments in your life that at first glance seem negligible.
However, once you start piling them up, you start noticing more and more that there are plenty of reasons to smile, no matter how dire the circumstances might be. Thoughts are fleeting, and that’s why this is gratitude journaling, not gratitude thinking. Although just thinking about it might bring some benefits, thinking is an automatic process that does not require you to do anything physically.
Writing, however, creates a ritual and a habit. Apart from that, writing creates an archive of those grateful thoughts that you can come back to if you’re feeling down. An archive like that can’t be built on thoughts simply because we don’t have that capacity as humans. You can only store so much in your head.
How To Start Gratitude Journaling
Now you’re probably wondering – “Alright, how can I get started?” And well, the truth is you don’t need much to get started. It’s simple, but not easy. All you need is a notebook and a pen. Don’t overcomplicate things.
You don’t need a new notebook with custom embroidery that says Gratitude Journal in gold letters. Use an old one you already have and rip off some used pages if you have to. Remember, this exercise is about being grateful for what you already have. Once you have all the necessary tools, sit down and think for a minute or two about things that you are sincerely grateful for.
The fact that you’re alive and reading this is a big one. Once you cover all the big ones, you can become more specific and personal. Now, dedicate a few minutes to writing down those moments or things you’re grateful for. Then take a minute or two to meditate on them and truly feel gratitude. Try to imagine life without your reasons for gratitude.
The Toughest Part
The hardest part is creating the habit, and doing it every single day, trusting the process even on the days where you don’t want to do it, and the days you don’t experience some kind of immediate gratification. The most important part is thinking and staying present.
It’s tempting to just jot a few generic reasons down just so you can feel some kind of sense of achievement. You must resist the urge to rush things. Mindfulness is important here. Be mindful and take a few deep breaths. Think again about why you’re doing this. The key part of this exercise is coming up with reasons that are sincere.
This often forgotten practice is worth sharing with you because of how effective gratitude journaling can be for your mental health and physical well-being, as well as for those around you who benefit from an increase in positive energy.
In summary? Journaling seems like one of those things that may seem too good to be true but actually work! So take time out each day or week and put pen to paper – literally or digitally – and see what happens! And please share your experience by commenting below. What are some ways you’ve used a gratitude journal? How did it make a difference in your life?
Share your experience with us!