Taking stock of your emotions, goals, and progress will facilitate an overall healthier lifestyle. A gratitude journal is an amazing tool for anyone seeking to take control of their life by having a more optimistic outlook.
Gratitude journals can be used to express your appreciation for the things, the people, or even the emotions you feel grateful to have. They have the ability to improve your life emotionally, mentally and even physically. Gratitude journals provide a healthy method of focusing on the things in our life that bring us joy and/or peace of mind. By having a gratitude journal, you can take inventory of the things within your life.
Here is a list of the benefits of keeping a gratitude journal:
- Practice Mindfulness
- Becoming Optimistic
- Improve Mental Health
- Boost of Confidence
- Improve Physical Health
- Sleep Better
- Facilitates Empathy
- More Appreciation
- Improved Decision-Making Skills and Higher Productivity
- Enhances your Creativity and Resourcefulness
In short, a gratitude journal is a book where you write down all of the things or people in your life that you are grateful for. Gratitude journaling is another form of self-reflection.
Life is a journey. And often, we forget to acknowledge and appreciate the things around us. As small as they are, they still account for the basic things that make your life worth living. Relying on spoken language can be fleeting. Writing down your intentions and gratitude serves as evidence and constant reminder of how blessed you are. Gratitude journaling is the first step towards acquiring an attitude of gratitude.
Often the simplest thing to do can often be overlooked. Appreciation is a rare commodity that it becomes a reason why relationships become stale and live undervalued. Saying thank you should not only be done once but imbibed in your everyday life. This is when gratitude takes its purest form. Not in anticipation of a favor given but an attitude that transforms your life. How should you start? Use a gratitude journal.
Mindfulness is the awareness of our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and our environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens. Children are the perfect epitome for pure appreciation of things. Watching them take pleasure in their "first experiences" is an eye-opener for adults that you don't need grand gestures and events to be grateful. Gratitude journaling allows you to see and appreciate the world around you.
If the day doesn't feel right and everything is out of control, stop, look around and write something you are grateful for as an immediate mood enhancer.
The world is full of negativity from the big screen, television, and social media. Narrowing down on even the slightest false move and misinterpretation. And, taking them to social media harboring hatred. The internet becomes the modern day's way of public persecution, stoning them with harsh words through comments.
Based on the studies of Gallup (1999), 90% of American teens and adults pointed out that gratitude made them "extremely happy" or "somewhat happy". Thus, thankfulness is related to mood and life satisfaction, therefore, associated with well-being.
Gratitude journaling results in a paradigm shift. Having a grateful heart rewires your brain to look at opportunities rather than threats, highlight strength rather than dwell on weakness, and shift from lack to abundance. You gain a hopeful view of life, helping you to thread forward despite the obstacles and challenges.
Mental health is a serious issue in this day and age. People, especially young people, are exposed to social judgment and ridicule the moment they make themselves open to the public eye. Toxic environment and stress, too often, become the norm.
Improves Mental Health
Social media becomes an open diary of their day-to-day lives, exposing themselves to the prying eye of everyone. The internet becomes a nest of hatred, loathe, discrimination, and distrust. Public shaming has become a trend that too often causes social reprimand as well as isolation. Resulting in mental health diseases such as depression or even worst, suicide.
Clinical research has shown the effectiveness of enhancing one's mental health by keeping a gratitude journal. This practice has shown a much practical pre-emptive approach rather than a causal method to cure these disorders. According to a study conducted by Joseph & Wood, grateful people were less ill-tempered and unsociable, depressed, and emotionally weak. They experience positive emotions frequently. Thankfulness is also associated with traits associated with
- positive social functioning
- emotional warmth
- activity seeking
On Clinical Depression
According to the research of Geraghty, Wood, & Hyland, gratefulness predicted significantly lower risk of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence, and drug abuse or dependence.
Gratitude journaling is a safe outlet that's private and secured. Keeping tab of experiences and lessons help you embrace your brokenness and imperfections. As such, it keeps you grounded, engaged, and humbled at the blessings you have received.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Kashdan, Uswatte, and Julian (2006) sampled 42 patients with PTSD diagnosis and 35 veterans from the Vietnam war. The two groups showed a difference of 1.38 standard deviations, which means that patients with PTSD are less grateful than the other. After subjecting them to a methodology requiring them to write a gratitude list, the results show gratitude was shown to relate to more daily self-esteem and positive affect. This suggests that:
(a) gratitude is lower in people with PTSD, but
(b) to the extent that people with PTSD experience gratitude, they have better daily functioning.
The results propose that the method has a significant impact on people with PTSD diagnosis to increase thankfulness.
"Gratitude is confidence itself. In it, we feel how the same force that pushes grass through cracks in the sidewalk invigorates our own life." - Jack Kornfield
It's much easier to change the things around you in your life by changing the way you perceive them. Our minds are very powerful and influence all of the actions we take.
Gratitude journaling increases your resilience. The discouragement that used to debilitate you will no longer be of concern because you will be able to focus on the positive attributes of your life. Happiness and contentment can seem fleeting when looking at everything negatively. It feels as if you can never quite catch a break or feel fulfilled.
Instead of looking for fulfillment from external factors, gratitude will show you that you are already complete. Gratitude brings relief and understanding so that we aren't so hard on ourselves when we don't get everything we hope for.
We understand that perhaps that thing or person wasn't for us or perhaps there is something better out there for us. In the meantime, we stay resilient and grateful for what we do have already. Once you stop comparing, you don't see yourself lacking anything or not being good enough. You feel contentment with yourself as you are now and see that you're more motivated to reach your next goal. Anything you seek to obtain will simply be an addition and not a part of you.
Gratitude journaling will give you a boost of confidence because you'll see the good in you and that you define your own standard of success.
After you become content, you can then create new goals truer to you as an individual.
This boost of confidence will give you the security you need to make changes solely for yourself and not based on what society says.
Wood et al. study showed that thankfulness is associated with authentic living negatively related to self-alienation. Gratitude results in low narcissism and the ability to forgive.
Stress is prevalent nowadays as people become busier, caught up in the mundane of life. Having a grateful attitude is an effective stress buster that will come handy every day over time. (Wood, Maltby, Gillett, et al., 2008). Stress is one of the culprits of most diseases, such as high blood, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
What it means is that you don't sacrifice your sanity and peace of mind to reach your goals. You can still passionately pursue your desires without your desires possessing you.
A famous quote says, "gratitude is the vitamin of the soul". Notice that people who appreciate even the smallest thing tend to have a happy disposition. They are not delusional but just in sync with their inner core that despite problems and obstacles, they will not falter.
The average person has approximately 60,000 to 70,000 thoughts daily. Many of these thoughts are daily stressors or concerns regarding responsibilities such as paying a bill, adhering to deadlines, etc. All of this stress and anxiety can directly affect one's sleep pattern and sleep quality.
Stress is known to have contributed to less sleep or interrupted sleep. Gratitude journaling can reduce one's stress. Writing down your thoughts can be therapeutic by itself.
Starting and ending your day, adding an entry in your diary, gives helps you center in on the good over bad. A grateful heart does not only appreciate what has been done but also welcomes what is to come. As such, you can sleep well through the night. The following day feeling refreshed after recuperating through the night, anticipating a beautiful day ahead. Every morning brings on a brand new start, pumping up their day in making the most out of it.
"Gratitude is the memory of the heart." - Jean Baptiste Massieue
Gratitude journaling serves us as a constant reminder of what we have and appreciate the most. It can be easy to forget such sentiments when busy with daily responsibilities or trying to fulfill certain desires we might experience.
Writing in a gratitude journal can make us more aware of what we have that others might not have. This can even be the basic essentials such as food and shelter.
Think about some of the freedoms you sometimes take for granted that others may not have. You can be grateful for some characteristics you have as well as some things about yourself you may consider to be flawed.
Not only does gratitude journaling facilitate empathy but it also aids in self-acceptance. You will receive a boost of awareness within your life as well as become more aware of other peoples' current conditions.
As a result of your new-found awareness, you'll be able to be more considerate toward others and toward yourself. Some people have the habit of making self-deprecating jokes. While it can seem to be a coping mechanism, it could also reinforce negative perceptions one has about their life. For example, a person may constantly joke about how broke they are when they have a sizable amount compared to others who may quite literally have none.
Writing the things you are thankful for is also a way to fill your love tank. When your love tank is full and overflowing, the tendency is to show more compassion to others. Gratitude teaches you that success is a privilege, not an entitlement, which makes you humble.
Appreciating others for their contribution, no matter how big or small, is a great way to engage other people. You earn their respect and trust, and thus, will do the same to you. Often those who people who feel appreciated will always give back twice the effort.
"Gratitude turns what we have into enough." - Aesop
With this era of consumerism and the billions of dollars spent on advertising, many of us get distracted by new and shiny things. It can make us forget about what we do have and lose focus on what we do have. This can apply to the people in our lives as well as some people get lost in the fantasy of romance films only to find that they are fawning for something they wish they had.
Nothing is wrong with having ambitions. However, gratitude should still be maintained to have a clear sight of what's truly most important to you.
Gratitude journaling helps you to be more appreciative. Sometimes we take things and people for granted. When we list these things and see them visually written, we gain a better view of our reality. You can write why you are grateful for having your partner, family, and friends.
This increase of appreciation will also help build better interpersonal relationships between you and those you care for. Gratitude journaling will ensure you don't take anyone or anything for granted. They will also feel more appreciated due to your appreciation.
A grateful heart opens the gateway of abundance. As the law of attraction states, what you invest your energy on, you attract. Through the gratitude journal, you learn to find joy even in the hard places. The more you are in a state of gratitude, the more you will attract things to be grateful for.
Improved Decision-Making Skills and Higher Productivity
"Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." - Melody Beattie
Life's spontaneous events can sometimes make us feel that life is also unfair. All of this is a matter of perspective which can easily change through the practice of gratitude journaling.
Journaling can help us refamiliarize ourselves with our past experiences. You may find new discoveries or new points of view when journaling. This new understanding can provide you with clarity and peace within your present life, making it easier for you to establish clearer goals for your future. People often think that it is our experiences that shape who we are.
However, in reality, it is solely our interpretation of those experiences that make us who we are. If we constantly see the glass as half empty all of our lives, we feed into a victim complex where we honestly believe we have no say in our present circumstances or future conditions. However, when we take more of a positive approach, we devise better strategies to deal with circumstances that occur in our lives.
Wood et al. revealed that gratitude relates mutually with autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Thus, when making a decision, it is all-encompassing rather than self-centered. Decisions are based on facts and the overall big picture instead of dwelling on short-term subjective ones.
As previously discussed, gratitude journaling can help you to learn yourself better and what you truly want out of life. This gives you a clear sight of what next steps you need to take to reach your goal. Many people can relate to thinking they really want something only to feel deep sadness when they reach that goal, get that product, get into that relationship, etc. By having clear and honest goals, you won't feel resentment or disappointment when you finally obtain them.
Enhances your Creativity and Resourcefulness
A gratitude journal is another opportunity to showcase your creativity and ingenuity. Journals can become routine and dull without a sparkle of imagination. Channel your inner Van Gogh to draw something of significance. Or, tune in to your inner Shakespeare to express your thoughts poetically or linguistically.
A gratitude journal is a transformation tool that can even be better than the typical goal setting or daily diary. What sets it apart is it allows every inch of your body, especially your heart, to engage in the process. The practice appeals to your emotions, which can alter your personality and attitude. Being grateful is not about discarding the negative but finding joy even in hard places.
Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration
There is no right or wrong way to use a gratitude journal. The benefits are nonetheless very powerful regardless of how you choose to make yours.