Cultivating Gratitude Journaling
Journaling since the age of 10, I have hundreds of pages filled with dreams, secrets, fears, stories from around the world, spiritual devotions, and music that inspires me. Over the years, I have formed a regular journal practice that has helped me self-reflect. Writing about my feelings eases stress and is a magnificent tool for coping with emotions. I added gratitude journaling a few years ago, and I wish I had done it sooner.
The holidays inspire us to start thinking about gratitude. Gratitude is more than expressing your thanks to someone else. It allows us to celebrate the present. Psychologists have stated there are personal and social benefits to being mindful of the things you are grateful for in your life. Getting in the habit of being thankful shifts your mindset away from negative emotions to positive ones.
Benefits of Expressing Gratitude
Taking the time to be more attentive to expressing gratitude will have lasting effects. Here are a few of them:
It boosts your mood.
You will have more satisfaction with your life.
It strengthens your relationship with others.
Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present.
Your physical health improves.
You will be more patient.
You are more relaxed and calmer.
You become less materialistic.
Set A Goal
To get the benefits of gratitude, wouldn't it be great if we made made it part of a daily practice?
I have set a goal to acknowledge gratitude as part of my daily journaling. There is no wrong time to do it. Take a few minutes first thing in the morning or before bed at night. I sit down with my notebook and a cup of coffee. I write for ten to twenty minutes without stopping, also known as free writing. Then, add moments of grace and pleasurable things I enjoyed from the day to my journal’s dedicated “gratitude” pages.
Wanting to be more intentional with my writing, I sparked gratitude inspiration by making a list of ways to renew my journaling.
Start Small - Take five to ten minutes and pick just one thing to write down. Let your gratitude grow by writing about the little joys in your day. If you find yourself stuck, look through previous entries and rejoice in all the blessings you have received. The more you think about the things you have to be thankful for, the more you will be grateful.
Keep It Simple- We often miss identifying the little things that make our day better. You can be grateful that the sun came out, you cooked a great meal, laughed at a funny TikTok video — the point is, you don’t have to work hard at finding it. Soon you will pay attention to the things in your day working for you and not against you.
Meditate On It- Meditation is a great way to center your thoughts. There are many distractions vying for our attention and pulling our minds in different directions. Take a breath during your meditation and concentrate on gratitude. I use my senses to focus on the sounds, smells, sights that have been part of my day. I envision what brings me comfort, happiness, warmth and I open my heart to feelings of thanks.
Focus on People Not Things- It can be difficult to write about the objects for which we are thankful. Putting a face to feelings of appreciation makes it personal and will boost your gratitude journaling practice.
Use a Prompt- If you don't know where to start, then using a prompt may work for your practice. Here are a few questions to prompt your gratitude reflection.
How could gratitude have a positive impact on a current situation or challenge?
What’s something that you’re grateful to have today that you didn’t have a year ago?
Write about a happy memory?
What struggle have you overcome in your life that you’re grateful for?
What songs do you play when you are in a good mood. Write down some of the lyrics?
Write about someplace you’ve been that you’re grateful for.
Write about a friend that you’re grateful for.
Look around the room and write about everything you see that you’re grateful for.
What was your favorite vacation?
What is something you love about yourself?
What do you love about the town or city you live in?
Do you have a pet? What do you love about them?
What brings you joy?
What's your favorite thing about the holiday season?
It is always a great time to start cultivating gratitude. I challenge you to spend a few minutes every day for a month, paying attention to the events or people who inspire your gratitude. Then write it down.
What do you have to be thankful for in your life?