I’ve experienced firsthand how gratitude can change your life. Which is why it’s ironic that I’ve drifted away from my daily practice of gratitude journaling. This post is as much for you as it is for me.
I’ll start by sharing 3 benefits you’ll gain by keeping a gratitude journal. Then I’ll share 5 tips to help you start a gratitude journal the right way.
3 Key Benefits of Keeping a Gratitude Journal
1. When You Are Grateful For What You Have, You’ll Get More Of What You Want
Your eyes see what your mind holds. This isn’t a “woo-woo” concept. I don’t mean that what you think about will magically appear in your life.
Think about it. When you get a new pair of shoes, you start noticing them on other people. They never caught your attention before. Now that you own a pair, you’re more mindful of them when you see them on other people. It’s the same thing when you get a new phone, car, purse, pen, journal, or whatever.
Years ago, I dreamed of going to Le Cordon Bleu, a culinary school. I went to their open house several times. I consulted with their advisor many times to try to find a way to pay for the tuition. I really wanted to attend this college.
During that time, I would notice La Cordon Bleu everywhere. I bumped into culinary students wearing their uniforms everywhere I went. Like at a mall’s restroom, of all places. I started working at a Greek restaurant and everyone in the kitchen was a La Cordon Bleu graduate. La Cordon Bleu was always on my mind, and that’s what I always saw.
So if you’re always focusing on what you’re lacking and situations that aren’t going well in your life, that’s what you’ll see more of.
The answer to your prayers can be right in front of you, but you can’t see it because it’s covered by a negative film of pessimistic thoughts.
But when your mind is conditioned to be grateful and you’re always on the lookout for blessings, that’s what you’ll receive more of.
If you’re grateful for what you have, you’ll always find more things to be grateful for. You’ll become aware of opportunities you never noticed before.
2. You’ll Say “Yes!” to Less Stress
When you are consumed by gratitude, little things that used to bother you will be as insignificant as a grain of sand on a beach. It won’t matter!
So what if you’re late because of traffic? At least you got there safe. Who cares if someone unsubscribed, unfollowed, or unfriended you? Be grateful you’re repelling people who don’t align with your vision.
3. You’ll Feel Better About Yourself
Jealousy stems from ungratefulness. If you feel self-doubt or envy when you hear about another person’s accomplishments, it’s because your sole focus is on their blessings. By default, you neglect to be grateful for yours.
No, gratitude won’t make life perfect. But you’ll find yourself playing the comparison game a lot less, which in turn will raise your self-esteem, and you’ll feel better about yourself.
5 Tips For Keeping a Gratitude Journal
Tip #1: Pick an Easy Method
To begin, set yourself up for success. Pick an easy method to express your gratitude daily. There are several options to choose from. There’s the old-fashioned way: pen and paper. And there’s the new age way: apps and digital journals. I’ll share a few different options.
Paper Notebook: You can’t get more old-fashioned than this. Pen and paper is actually the recommended method for journaling. It is said that writing things down, as appose to typing, will help you think bigger as well as more clearly and concisely.
The 5-Minute Journal: This journal is like a paper notebook, but better. Each page is divided into two sections, morning and night.
The morning section starts with these 3 short journal prompts to help you start your day on a good note.
The prompts for the night section will help you analyze your day and make note of how you can do better the next day.
Evernote (or any other note-taking app): This method is faster and more convenient. If you have the app synced across all your devices, then you can do your journaling anywhere at any time.
The method you choose is not that important. The most important thing is that you make it easy for you to journal every day.
Tip #2: Make It a Routine
Like anything else, to experience the positive effects of keeping a gratitude journal, you have to do it consistently. The best way to make sure you do this exercise every day is to attach it something you already do every day. Like brushing your teeth. After you brush your teeth, it’s journaling time.
If you don’t intentionally make your journaling a habit after about a week or two, you’ll do it less and less until eventually you’ve dropped the habit all together. Don’t leave it up to fate. Have a set time.
I like nights because I can write things I’m grateful for that happened that same day since the events are still fresh on my mind. But mornings are also good because it sets the tone for the rest of your day.
Again, do whatever is easiest for you. Pick the best time for you, and make sure it gets done.
Tip #3: Go Deep
Now that you have your method and an established routine, it’s time for action.
Make a list of 10 things you’re grateful for in your life right now. Ten is the magical number because it forces you to go deep, faster.
In the beginning, you’ll start off general, like being thankful for your house, cars, job, and family. However, the more you keep up with your gratitude journal, the more you’ll find to be grateful for.
Eventually you’ll start to go deep and be thankful for the smallest of things like pencils, the internet, stoplights, cops, hospitals, birds chirping, flowers, the blue sky, coffee, the wind, and the sun shining.
You’ll start to realize that your list of things to be grateful for is a lot longer than you realized. That’s when the magic happens.
One more thing, write each item in a complete sentence. For example:
I am so grateful for…
Thank you God for…
I’m happy that…..
This will keep you from mindlessly jotting things down. And it will help you genuinely feel the gratitude, which leads me to the next point.
Tip #4: Be Specific
It’s not enough to simply say what you’re grateful for. Gratitude will only work if you feel it deep in your bones. To do that, make your gratitude list specific.
Don’t just write, “I am grateful for my home.” Include WHY you’re grateful, like this: “I am grateful for my home because it keeps me warm and safe.”
This will ensure you aren’t just going through the motions.
Tip #5: Marinate in the Feeling
To intensify your gratitude session even more, read over the 10 gratitude statements you just wrote down. Put your hand on your heart and say, “thank you” at the end of each sentence with as much emotion as you can muster.
Remember, the point of gratitude journaling is to “feel” grateful. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t summon the feeling of gratitude in the beginning. We all start that way. After a few sessions, it will get easier.
Try Different Gratitude Practices
Journaling is only one of many ways you can practice gratitude. There are hundreds of different practices you can do.
Rhonda Byrne goes over 28 of them in her book, The Magic. She covers all the major areas: health, money, and relationships. This book is like a 28-day journey to make gratitude a way of life, which is the ultimate goal. Click here to check it out.