Wondering how to start a gratitude journal? Here’s all you need to know – the steps, the benefits and much more.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward.
Having this life is nothing less than a blessing, and especially at a time like this when the whole wide world is coming to a standstill, we finally tend to realize how small and insignificant we are, when it comes to a war against nature.
But every morning, when we wake up to start a new day, or at night when we try looking back at the day’s events – we often tend to be grateful for a whole lot of things, but most of us don’t have the habit of penning them down.
Eventually, we end up taking the good things for granted, as we focus more & more on the bad things in life.
Have you ever thought how wonderful it would be, to pause at least for 10 minutes a day and write your heart out – expressing gratitude to every small thing that makes you smile, for every single person who touches your life and for all those beautiful moments that conspires to make you happy?
If you make a little effort to pen down why you really appreciate having certain things in your life, then you’ll learn to treasure these things more when you encounter them.
This will also keep your focus on the positive aspects of your life & help you to walk on the road as a happier, healthier, and more optimistic person!
- What is A ‘Gratitude Journal’?
- How To Start A ‘Gratitude Journal’?
- What Are The Benefits Of Writing & Maintaining A Gratitude Journal?
- “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” – Buddha.
What is A ‘Gratitude Journal’?
Before I delve deeper into the topic and tell you how to start a ‘Gratitude Journal’ – let me first explain to you what it exactly is!
Well, to put it in a layman’s term, it’s a journal (can be a diary or a notebook) where an individual writes about his/her conscious thoughts of gratefulness.
It’s a way to collect and focus on the positive aspects of life and nurture them for better living.
Experts say that gratitude is one of the most powerful human emotions and it can transform our lives, opening up some incredible opportunities for love, joy, and success.
Personally, I believe that maintaining a ‘Gratitude Journal’ can definitely change your perspective & help you find something good in your day-to-day life.
How To Start A ‘Gratitude Journal’?
It’s no rocket science – trust me when I say this! Starting to create a gratitude journal is easier than you think. All you gotta do is – buy a blank notebook, make a routine to take 10 minutes out & write down a few things you’re grateful for.
It’ll be best if you follow this routine every night, before you go to bed. This minimalist daily task can lighten up your mood, shower you with hope and help you identify even the tiniest joys in your daily life.
“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” — Henri Frederic Amiel.
Here are a few simple steps that’ll help you to get started and create an amazing gratitude journal that you’d want to treasure for life.
Step 1 – Selecting your journal & transforming it into one of your favorite possessions
It’s not just about buying a notebook – but transforming it in your unique way. Put a nice cover on it, write your favorite quote on the cover, make a doodle or stick some notes that define you. Get as creative as you can, and have fun while personalizing your gratitude journal.
Step 2 – Calm yourself down, make your mood and follow the ritual
Before you sit down to write, you can try and create an ambiance & set your mood. I usually play some soothing music as I sit down at my favorite corner of the room, to pour my heart on paper.
You can choose to meditate for a couple of minutes, focusing on breathing and feel your senses to be alive. You can also light a scented candle or burn incense sticks – because soothing aroma also plays a significant role in calming us down. Some people also choose to have a cup of green tea while writing, as it gives them an extra dash of energy.
No matter what you choose to do, make sure that you follow a routine and feel at ease before you get started with writing on your gratitude journal.
As they say, consistency is the key here and regular rituals implement a call to action for our mind, body, and spirit by our muscle memory.
Step 3 – Pour your heart out and let the words flow
a.) Start with a quote that defines your current mood
Begin writing with a quote that defines your mood, or probably highlights something particular that you’ve experienced that day. It might be a love quote that reminds you of your partner or a happiness quote that warms your heart.
If you have had a bad day, then write a motivational quote and tell yourself – ‘This too shall pass…’
Not every day is the same and as humans, it’s quite general (and normal) to go through various emotions – just try to focus on the strongest emotion that you’ve felt that day, and write a quote about it.
b.) Think of the best moment of your day
It doesn’t have to be something extraordinary! Sometimes, the best moment for me is to wake up and see my 4-years-old nephew or at times, it’s just the perfect cup of evening tea, brewed exactly the way I like. Yeah, your best moment can be the simplest of things that bring a smile on your face, no matter what. Write that down and be thankful, for the joy it fetches.
c.) Write deeply
Rather than just mentioning pointers, try to write at least a couple of lines mentioning why a particular person/ thing makes you happy. The deeper you’d go, the more joy you’ll derive from the entire practice.
For example, you might be feeling grateful towards your maid who cooked and packed your lunch – so write how wonderful she made you feel when you opened the lunchbox, what she had packed, how it tasted – every minute detail of it, that you remember. This will nurture your gratefulness further.
d.) Ask yourself: “What if I didn’t have that in my life?”
The whole point of writing & maintaining a gratitude journal is to cherish the fact that good things are happening to you and you’re blessed to have some amazing people in your life. It’s important to not take all of that for granted.
Think about how your life would be different if you had to live without certain people/ things, what you claim to be grateful for.
Deciding what you could or couldn’t live without in this way can make it easier for you to figure out what you’re truly thankful for, and why.
e. ) Think of the challenges you’ve faced that day and how you overcame them
Many times, we forget to thank ourselves – for being the person we are, for having the strength we possess and for overcoming all the hurdles of our day-to-day lives. As you sit down to write on your gratitude journal, don’t forget to praise yourself also.
Think about how your life would be different if you hadn’t been faced with those situations and write your thoughts down. Each challenge that we face has something to teach us, and the way we overcome them defines our strength, patience & perseverance.
f.) Write about the warmest moment of your day
It can be waking up to your partner’s morning kiss or a colleague giving you a hug, not knowing that you simply needed. We all do experience some warm moments on a daily basis, but most of the time we think that we deserve it, and tend to overlook it as just another thing!
But it’s not – trust me! So start to value those warm gestures rather than considering them to be usual. Pen it down and if you can, say ‘Thank You’ to the person as well.
g. ) Don’t rush through it. Take your time & enjoy the process of writing
This isn’t just another task that you force yourself to do! Rather, it’s a way to tickle your consciousness, focus on the positivity & nurture it for good. Writing your gratitude journal is not just another chore to get through.
Enjoy the process as you sit back, giving this 10 minutes entirely to yourself, awakening your senses and calming down your mind.
Know that not all people in the world can have this privilege and the fact that you have that time, and can make a list of things that make you feel grateful should make you feel grateful!
What Are The Benefits Of Writing & Maintaining A Gratitude Journal?
Arianna Huffington, in her book ‘Thrive‘, mentioned that –
“According to a study by researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Florida, having participants write down a list of positive events at the close of a day — and why the events made them happy — lowered their self-reported stress levels and gave them a greater sense of calm at night.”
While regular journaling has been proven to improve our wellbeing, making a point of jotting down all the things that we are grateful for can take the experience to a whole new level.
Here are a few benefits of gratitude journaling that I’ve experienced myself and I’m sure that once you embark on this path, you’d soon understand how blissful a practice it is.
1. Maintaining a gratitude journal will help you to learn more about yourself & become more self-aware. As you emphasize on the details of your daily joys, you’ll come closer to yourself. It was only when I started writing, I realised that seeing a rainbow gives me enough happiness, that often a material object fails to provide!
2. By noting what you are grateful for, you will gain much more clarity about what you want to have more of in your life, and what you can cut from your life. It’ll make ‘letting go’ easier for you, as you’ll focus more on inner peace & derive positivity from the little things of daily life.
3. It’ll lower your stress levels and calm you down. It’ll act as a medicine for your insomnia (if you are suffering from it) and help you to get a night of sound sleep and wake up afresh.
4. It’s your personal note and you can feel free to pour your heart out. Consider your gratitude journal as a safe zone for yourself, and write whatever you feel, without any judgment.
5. Know that not every day will be the same! So, on days when you feel worried & blue, flip back through the pages of your gratitude journal to motivate yourself, change your attitude and remember that you have great people and things in your life.
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” – Buddha.
To all my dear friends who’re reading this article, I’m sure you’ve got a beautiful life to cherish and it’s time that you start appreciating it like never before.