Journaling since the age of 10, I have hundreds of pages filled with my 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 with self-reflection. Writing about my feelings eases stress and is a magnificent tool to cope with emotions. I added gratitude journaling two years ago, and I wish I had done it sooner.
Gratitude is more than expressing your thanks to someone else. Psychologists have stated there are personal and social benefits to being mindful of the things you have to be 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.
Your physical health improves.
You will be more patient.
You are more relaxed and calmer.
You become less materialistic.
Set A Goal
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, I add moments of grace and pleasurable things I enjoyed from the day to my journal’s dedicated “gratitude” pages.
Lately, I am struggling to identify things I am grateful for every day. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely very thankful to be healthy in the midst of a pandemic. I stare at the page, sometimes in tears, because I can’t think of one thing to write. I find myself asking, can we truly be thankful in 2020?
Not one to let myself be defeated by a blank page, I sparked gratitude inspiration by making a list of ways to renew my gratitude 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 each breath during your meditation and concentrate it on gratitude. I use my senses to focus on the sounds, smells, sights that have been part of my day. I envision what I notice brings me comfort, happiness, warmth and I open my heart to feelings of thanks.
Focus on People- It can be difficult to be inspired to write about objects. Putting a face to feelings of appreciation makes it personal and can boost gratitude.
It is always a great time to start cultivating gratitude. I challenge you to spend time every day for one week, 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?