Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the best ways to show thankfulness every day, and it turns out there is scientific proof that being grateful is good for you.
As proof, scientists conducted an experiment in which one group of people wrote down things they were thankful for every week, while the other group wrote down things that bothered them or were unimportant. Compared to the group that wrote about bad things or events that were or no importance to them, people who kept gratitude journals were more likely to stick to their fitness and activity plans, experienced less illness during the study and for months beyond, felt less stress, felt better about their lives, and were more optimistic and self-confident.
In addition to these positive effects of gratitude journaling, gratitude journaling helps you be more mindful and self-aware as your mind sifts through your daily activities. This mindfulness helps you better set your intentions for the day, leading to increased productivity and a growth mindset that sets you up for success.
Interestingly, every act of gratitude counts - and it can be as small as saying thank you or telling someone important how much they mean to you.
The good news is that keeping a gratitude journal is simple, and it's an easy habit to form.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is a deep appreciation for the good things in your life. When you experience gratitude, you feel grateful for something or someone.
Gratitude is a spontaneous emotion felt in the moment. Some people are predisposed to gratitude more frequently than others, but experts believe it is something you can cultivate and learn to practise.
What is gratitude journaling?
At its most basic, gratitude journaling involves remembering what you are grateful for that day and writing it down.
You decide how long your list is and how much detail you want.
And as your entries grow in number over time, you have a collection of inspiring material to look back on when you need a pick-me-up.
How do I start?
To start gratitude journaling, consider whether you prefer a physical or digital format.
Perhaps you want the ability to search for specific dates or events in your journal or receive a daily notification when it's time to make another entry. Or maybe you want to be able to add photos to your entries.
If digital journaling sounds like a good idea for you, Remble's gratitude journal is a great choice.
Next, pick a time and a place where you will journal.
Some people prefer journaling immediately upon waking. Others may like doing so before bed to clear their thoughts and enjoy a good night's rest. Still, others may want to use their journaling practice to gather their thoughts throughout the day as a mental break between work sessions.
There is no magic moment when you should journal. Simply find what works best for you.
What does matter is that you make a habit out of your journaling practice. If you need to stay consistent in the first few weeks, set a reminder on your phone to help you remember.
Next, when you journal, try to find new things to be grateful for daily. This helps you stretch your mental ability to recognize positive aspects of your life.
If you're having trouble getting started, spend a few moments thinking about the things in life for which you are grateful. Pause and observe the beauty of something you encounter in everyday life. Be thankful for the family you have, the friends you have, and the health you have.
As you pause and reflect, don't overlook the small things. Gratitude is about recognizing and appreciating those people, things, moments, skills, or gifts that bring joy, peace, or comfort into your life. Even the slightest gratitude can have a profound effect.
You may also consider writing about situations from different perspectives. For example, you may try journaling about your spouse through the lens of your children or best friend. Try to dig into your emotions and elaborate on the details of the topic you are writing on.
What if I get stuck?
Listing what you're grateful for might be easy when you first start your gratitude journaling practice. However, as time goes on, you may find yourself in challenging situations where you feel so overwhelmed that you don't know what to write anymore.
When this happens, you may want to use gratitude prompts to help you get out of a mental rut.
Here are some examples of gratitude journal prompts. Use gratitude prompts to inspire you whenever you feel stuck on what to write.
- What's a simple pleasure for which you are grateful?
- What's something you're thankful to have today that you didn't have a year ago?
- Write about someplace you've been that you're thankful for.
- What's something about your body or health that you're grateful for?
- What's something you're thankful for outside?
- What's an accomplishment you're proud of?
- What book(s) are you grateful for?
- What friend are you grateful for?
Want more prompts? The Remble app has a library of hundreds of gratitude journaling prompts organized by theme.
How do I make gratitude journaling a habit?
The key to making gratitude a habit is simply taking the time each day to focus on the experience of gratitude.
This involves planning to incorporate gratitude journaling into your already busy life and setting an intention to practice gratitude journaling daily.
Once you have made a habit out of gratitude journaling for yourself, try involving your partner or children.
You could make gratitude journaling a daily family practice.
For example, you could share one thing you're grateful for around the dinner table or exercise gratitude as part of the children's bedtime routine.
Try to keep track of these things in a family journal that you can go back to later to remember precious moments that are easy to forget.
Make it your intention to foster an atmosphere of gratitude in your home, and with time, you will start to see a positive shift in the attitudes of you and your family members.
Gratitude journaling isn't tricky. It just takes practice.
The more you can bring attention to what you feel grateful for, the more you'll feel thankful.
So, if you're looking for ways to feel happier, think more positively, feel more confident, experience better health, and sleep better, start journaling!
Want to learn more?
Are you interested in learning more about gratitude journaling? If so, we invite you to join our one-day journey, “How To Start a Gratitude Journal For a More Content Life,” a therapist-led, step-by-step video course.
For a preview of the journey, click here.