8 Tips for Gratitude Journaling
After talking so much about gratitude journaling on my social media, I wanted to write a little ‘How-To of Gratitude’ here as well. Of course, it’s a very personal practice for each one of us, so please adapt these tips to your own preferences.
What is Gratitude Journaling?
The thing is, for us adults, the novelty of most things has simply worn off. We take a lot of things and people for granted and overlook all the goodness that surrounds us. Busy lifestyles have us on autopilot most of the time.
So to develop fresh eyes again, we set aside about 10–15 min per day to write down 3 (or more… or less) things that we are grateful for. Morning or evening – by consciously taking the time to reflect on the good stuff in our lives, we open ourselves up again for more positivity and abundance.
This simple practice has been proven to lower stress/anxiety levels, strengthen the immune system, improve sleep quality, help us feel more optimism, compassion and happiness (to only name a few benefits). It can also support you through tougher times once you have your ‘gratitude attitude’ as a go-to mindset.
And the amazing thing is, studies by renowned gratitude experts such as Robert Emmons, Ph.D. show that the benefits already start flowing in after 3 weeks of practice.
How and why can it help improve happiness and creativity?
By simply seeing and appreciating the ‘small things‘ in life again, your mind sets itself up for more happiness and optimism. Your brain actually builds new neural structures that become stronger and stronger – like a muscle trained to see the good stuff in life. After a while it can overtake the negative bias we have set up as evolutionary autopilot (always expect the deadly tiger in the bush and don’t get distracted by enjoying the delicious berries).
Gratitude brings a feeling of ease and calm to a busy mind. Being grateful for the present moment can help take away any pressure we put on ourselves. And when the mind is at ease, ideas can flow. It’s a little bit like when ideas come at night or when you don’t think about it too much. They pop up when you’re not pressuring yourself. In that sense, you can let loose and let creativity flow.
I’d be careful though to let gratitude become another chore in the ‘run for happiness‘ – it should be without pressure, shoulds, woulds and have tos. It’s not really a place for hamster-wheeling for more happiness, but more of a mental place of calm and clarity.
8 Tips for Gratitude Journaling
1. Be specific and don’t repeat too much. After the first ‘easy‘ ones – family, friends, sunshine… – you will have to dig a little deeper and start (re)discovering the often overlooked things/events/people in your life.
2. Really feel the gratitude. Don’t just quickly scribble something down, but let it sink in and fill your heart area. That’s when all the benefits of gratitude will start showing up.
3. Experiment which time of the day works best for you. Keep the journal on your bed or coffee table, with a pen. So either morning or evening, it will be an easy-to-access practice.
4. Use a journal or notebook that you treasure, so it feels special when you use it. Also, afterwards, you can read back on it when you have a tough day to remind yourself of all the goodness that has been present in your life.
5. Don’t let it become another chore in an already busy life. And don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two… or five. When you do it, enjoy it! Let it fill you with calm and contentment.
6. Be on the look out – If you know you have your gratitude journal waiting for you to be filled, you will keep your eyes and heart open all day to see the abundance of good things around you.
7. Reframe – Who tells you and how do you know what is good and what is bad? Don’t judge too quickly, a ‘negative‘ situation might turn into a blessing, or be a lesson. However, it’s ok to feel it all, don’t pressure yourself into fake positivity. Simply stay open that there is good in life, even if it’s hard to see sometimes.
8. Don’t forget yourself! Send thanks to your body for supporting you non-stop, your heart, your feet, your cells… your creativity, your quirks… Gratitude brings self-love and acceptance.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle
My gratitude practice had simply been an absolute life changer! If you had asked me a year ago, I would have never thought that something so simple can bring such profound joy back into my life.
Lots of love,