Earlier, we wrote about the benefits of practising gratitude and touched on just a few of the many different ways that we can integrate gratitude into our lives. One of those ways was to create a gratitude journal, making a point of listing the good things in our lives on a regular basis, so that they’re available for us to look back on whenever we need a little lift.
We love the idea of a gratitude journal so, for those of you who love it too, here’s our ‘how-to’ guide for creating and maintaining one. Happy journaling!
Choose a Journal
Before you do anything else, you’ll need something in which to write your happy thoughts. You might already have a notebook at home that you’ve been dying to find a use for or this might be the perfect excuse to treat yourself to some new stationery (does anyone else find stationery to be super addictive?!). Either way, make sure that your gratitude journal is one that you’ll enjoy writing in and even look forward to – this practice should feel enjoyable and fun, not like a chore.
Set a Routine
Everyone’s different, and you might be one of those people who feels suffocated by routine and is much more efficient without one, but generally speaking, having a routine helps many people get stuff done. So it might be a good idea to decide how often you’re going to journal and when it might work for you to do that.
You may find that every day just before bed is a good time for you, which has the added bonus of sending you to sleep feeling positive and grateful, or you might prefer to write once a week – and if you have the memory for it, why not? The most important aspect of keeping a gratitude journal is consistency and as long as you have that, the rest is up to you!
Write a List
Gratitude journals work well in list format – good news for list lovers! Writing around five items every day, perhaps a few more if you write once a week, could be ideal. This kind of number allows enough room for both the bigger things and the more trivial, without leaving you scouring your mind for ideas. You can format your list however you like, though it can be helpful to start each item with something like ‘I am grateful for’, as it reemphasizes the purpose of the list.
Use Anything You Like
Your diary doesn’t care whether your entries seem important in the grand scheme of things. As long as they made you feel good, that’s really all that counts. So whilst a promotion at work or a new relationship should absolutely make their way onto your list, they’re by no means the only things that count. List the new shoes you bought, the time you beat on your run, and the stranger who helped you with your bags.
And if you really can’t think of five good things that happened that day? Add in something more general, like how cute your dog is or how much you love your boyfriend, or a memory that makes you smile. The longer you keep your journal, the more adept you’ll get at remembering things to put in it!
Spin the Negatives
Putting a positive spin on some of the negative things that happen in life can help you to put things into perspective and feel better about things. Car broke down? List that you’re grateful that it broke down in a quiet, safe neighbourhood, instead of on the side of the motorway. Got flu? List how sweet it is that your other half looks after you so well. This isn’t about diminishing the significance of the bad stuff, but it can help you refocus your energies on the stuff that makes you happy, instead of the stuff that doesn’t!
The act of writing down the things that you’re grateful for is therapeutic in itself, but offers the extra benefit of being there to look back on whenever you need to. Perhaps you’re feeling in need of a boost or maybe you feel so down in the dumps that you can’t think of anything to write in today’s entry. Flip back to other entries to remind yourself of all of the good stuff that you’ve had in your life. This can also be a lifting exercise at the end of each year!