I consider myself to be very blessed. Do I have bad days? ABSOLUTELY. Am I rainbows and butterflies every single day? Nope! BUT! I do make it a point to find something good in each day, even if the day as a whole wasn’t the best. I started keeping a gratitude journal about a year ago and I have to say that this was a life-changing experience for me. So much so that I felt I needed to share the benefits I personally experienced with all of you, in hopes that it may inspire you to keep one yourself!
A few years ago I was not the best version of myself. I was going through a lot of difficult things in my personal and professional life and was feeling very stressed and overwhelmed. As such, I started to radiate negativity. I could feel myself being negative, grouchy, irritable, and on edge often. I was having more “bad” days vs. “good days” and people even started to comment on my poor attitude. This was not the person I wanted to be nor was it the vibe I wanted to be giving out. So, I made a change. Keeping a gratitude journal was part of that change and was incredibly influential in regards to my self-discovery, self-love, and overall happiness.
Each time I suggest someone keep a gratitude journal, whether personally or professionally, I am often asked these common questions:
- “What is a gratitude journal?”
- “Why is keeping a gratitude journal important?”
- “What purpose does it serve?”
So, let’s dive in!
“What is a gratitude journal?”:
A gratitude journal is a notebook or journal in which you take time to write in every single day. It allows time for reflection and you are encouraged to write down the things you are grateful for each day. Sounds easy enough, right? Then why isn’t everyone doing it? I find often that people feel they do not have enough time to actually sit down and write down what they are grateful for. Also, it can be very difficult for some to even come up with things they are grateful for, especially true of those suffering from depression. I always remind people of the following:
- The beauty of this journal is that it is for YOU and you alone. It doesn’t need to be perfect spelling or nice handwriting or full sentences. It can be whatever works best for YOU.
- You don’t need to take a big chunk of time out of your day to write in it. There may be days where you have more time to reflect and journal than others, but anything is better than nothing. So, whether it’s 5 minutes or 30 minutes, it doesn’t matter. This is your journey, don’t compare it to someone else’s.
- Make it fun. Buy yourself a new journal that excites you and inspires you (shopping tip: Target and home goods often have adorable journals at super discounted prices, like $1-$3!). Buy some new pens. Pick a spot in your house that is cozy and comfortable and have that be your journaling spot. If you set yourself up for success, you are more likely to follow through with it.
“Why is keeping a gratitude journal important?”
Life is hard. And sad. And scary. And overwhelming. And it is SO easy to get caught up in the stress of it all sometimes. Just as I mentioned before, I too fell victim to negativity and let it consume me at one point. A gratitude journal is important to keep because it is going to force you OUT of the negativity. By taking time each day, no matter how long or short, to focus on something GOOD, you are breaking the cycle of negativity. You are allowing yourself to reflect on something positive, no matter how big or small. I’ve journaled about big things such as successful business achievements or personal milestones but I’ve also journaled about simple things such as feeling grateful that I had a crock-pot and was able to have dinner ready when I got home. True story! There have been times when I have had a really stressful day and I have felt so defeated and drained and then I remember that I committed to journaling each day and let me tell you, it instantly improved my mood. Now, I am not saying you are magically going to be super happy after a crappy day, but I promise you will feel an alleviation of stress and an increase in happiness. Why? Because if you thought the whole day was crap and focused on all of the reasons why, but then acknowledged something good within that day, it is going to remind you that the day wasn’t as bad as you may have thought.
“What purpose does it serve?”
A gratitude journal serves a few purposes. The first purpose it serves is it keeps you consistent and committed to something. Exhibiting discipline in anything is important as that mentality then follows in other things, such as career, relationships, etc. If you commit to write in the journal every single day, you are making a commitment to not only better your life but to stick with something and show follow through.
Also, keeping a gratitude journal keeps you accountable. It is easy to dismiss this task after a long day and say to yourself, “nothing good happened today, I am not even going to bother..” but if you force yourself to stick with your commitment and write down something, you are holding yourself accountable. Like discipline, accountability is also important in other areas of our lives.
If you are someone who struggles with finding happiness and often find yourself feeling depressed or anxious, keeping a gratitude journal is going to be a way to help you start shifting your mindset. It is a simple, yet effective way to start looking at situations differently and allowing yourself to practice positivity each day.
When you journal for an extended period of time, the best part is you are able to go back and read what you wrote. This is an incredible process as we all know that time flies by and we feel as though life is just passing us by. So, when you go back and reflect on the entries you wrote, it reminds you of the positives, of the blessings, of the GOOD. I especially like to do this during times of stress as it is a reminder for me that even though things in my life at that moment may feel overwhelming, things will get better.
And lastly, my favorite part about this process is that is forces you to STOP, sit, and reflect. Again, even if it is only for a few minutes. You are taking time for yourself, no one else, and focusing on just you and your thoughts. You’re not on your phone scrolling through social media or worrying about the kids or your significant other. It is protected time just for YOU and that is priceless.
If this is something you feel inspired to do, start out slow. Try it consistently for a week and see how it feels. If that works, try it for 2, and so forth. If you truly commit to this, it never feels like “work” and becomes something you start to genuinely look forward to! So, grab a journal, a pen, + a cup of tea and get started! No time like the present!
I would LOVE to know what spoke to you today and encourage you to comment below and share with me!
If you are interested in learning more about my therapy services, check out my website HERE. Seeking mental health services can be daunting and if you are finding my posts resonate with you, it is likely you are feeling ready to take that next step to work on leading a happier, healthier life! I would LOVE to support you in starting this journey and welcome you to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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