We have all heard about the ‘attitude of gratitude’ and how we’re ‘supposed’ to think positive thoughts. But how on earth do you do it? How do you take the ‘stuff’ that life throws your way and turn it into smiles instead of sulking? Here are 10 reasons why you might want to use a gratitude journal to help you with all of this – and why you’ll want to make a start today.
A gratitude journal can be an elaborate book with a beautiful cover, or it can be a simple notebook, it doesn’t really matter. What counts is that you write in it regularly – and keep it somewhere that you can review it, whenever you want to. Here are 10 reasons to keep a gratitude journal – and how it can change your life, starting today!
- It’s fun!
I’m going to state the most obvious reason first – it’s fun, keeping a gratitude journal! Just imagine doing it every day for a year and then looking back to experience the great stuff that happened in your life! Sure that’s worth a few minutes of your time, each day?
- Your body feels every thought you think.
Whether you’re living in a stressful situation or just thinking back to one, your body doesn’t notice the difference. It will still fire off all of those stress hormones and create the same physical, mental and emotional tension, whether or not the event is currently happening.
How about turning that to your advantage, by consciously choosing to focus on gratitude? And writing things down in your journal ramps up the power of the body’s response. So your gratitude journal can end up improving your health!
- It can help you sleep better – and dream happier!
It has been proven by psychologists that our thoughts, as we fall asleep, set the tone for at least the next four hours of dreaming. Surely it’s better to spend the night dreaming about things that make you feel good, rather than reliving your worries and stresses? If you’d like a specially-designed technique to help with this, here’s one of my favourites:-Bedtime De-Stress With A Gratitude Spiral.
- It can change the way you think.
When you decide to keep a gratitude journal, you are making a commitment to yourself, to turn your Monkey Mind’s thought habits towards conversations that inspire you, instead of grumbling and criticising.
By focussing on gratitude – and making it feel more ‘real’ by writing it down – each day, you are giving clear instructions to your unconscious mind that you want to hear more stories of gratitude and fewer of grouching.
Over just a few weeks (researchers estimate just 3!), it will make a significant difference to the general tone of your thoughts.
- It builds up your strength, for when things don’t go so well.
Gratitude can be thought of as being a mental and emotional ‘muscle’ which you can build up with daily exercise. If stuff goes wrong in life and your gratitude muscle is weak, you’ll struggle to find a silver lining in those storm clouds. But if you already have a strong daily gratitude habit, then your gratitude muscle will be resilient and well-trained, meaning life’s challenges don’t knock you off course as much.
A daily gratitude habit – such as keeping a gratitude journal – can help you connect with your sense of inner peace, when you need it most.
- It can turn you into an optimist.
No one is suggesting that ‘Pollyanna’ is where you need to be, but having a generally optimistic attitude towards life has been shown to cut your stress levels and to improve your physical, mental and emotional health.
By consciously taking a few minutes each day to see what is going well in your life, you are gently (but firmly!) training yourself to have a more positive outlook, lifting your spirits and making you more likely to smile and laugh your way through your day.
- It can help with ’emotional first aid’.
When ‘stuff happens’, it can be difficult to keep things in perspective and it’s all too easy to drown in the drama of the stories your Monkey Mind is telling.
Your gratitude journal can act like emotional first aid in those situations, helping you to see – more objectively – how life is going and how much of it is going well, instead of having all of the good being wiped out by the current situation. It can give you back your perspective and help you to more easily handle whatever is going on for you.
- You can see what’s great, not just what’s gone wrong.
If we have a long-term habit of letting our Monkey Minds grumble and gripe, then they become world experts in pointing out everything that is bad and wrong and broken in our lives – and the wider world.
Keeping a daily gratitude journal helps you to rebalance this, by also being able to see what is good and right and wonderful in our day-to-day experience of life.
- It helps you let go of old limiting beliefs.
We tend to see what we expect in life – and what we expect is limited by our beliefs about what is possible and likely to happen. These beliefs work as a filter in your brain, passing through evidence to support them and rejecting evidence that would contradict them.
So if, for example, you were to run a belief of “life is hard and I don’t deserve to be happy,” then that is what your mind will show you evidence to support.
But if you use your gratitude journal to deliberately write down examples of “life being good” and “I feel happy”, then over time that old limiting belief will melt away.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which of those beliefs would be more fun to live with. 🙂
- And finally… starting a gratitude journal is something that the ‘future you’ will thank you for!
Imagine zooming ten or twenty years into your future, having kept a gratitude journal for all of that time. Do you think that the future you will be a different person to the one you are today? Do you think they might feel happier? Less stressed? More positive? Healthier? More vibrant? Generally more fun to be around?
Or do you think they’ll tell you that they wish you had never taken the time to spend a few minutes a day on gratitude and that they wish you had stayed stuck feeling stressed, miserable and grumpy?
How about taking the first steps towards that ‘future you’ today – and starting your gratitude journal?
These are just some of the benefits of a gratitude journal. Are you ready to get started?
How To Start Your Gratitude Journal?
You can choose any notebook for your gratitude journal, but most people like to choose one that feels special. So you could go and buy one in your local store – or order one online. Then choose to write (or draw pictures) of 3-5 things you feel grateful for – ideally every day.
The main thing is that you make the decision to get started – and that you take some action.
If you’d like to go a bit deeper than just writing stuff down each day, you might enjoy my book Gratitude: A Daily Journal. It brings you the ‘how to’ of gratitude, in bite-sized, practical chunks – as well as a Readers’ Club, with reader-only bonuses and a supportive online readers’ forum, to share your journey with other like-minded gratitude-seekers.
Its aim is to help you discover how to make the miracle of gratitude an easy and life-changing part of your daily routine!
Here’s where to find out more and perhaps order a copy today: Gratitude: A Daily Journal
Of course, other gratitude journals are also available! 😉
So there are 10 reasons to keep a gratitude journal – and I’m sure you can feel why it would be great to make a start today.
I’m curious: how are you feeling about this? Which of the reasons resonated for you? And how might you choose to make the miracle of gratitude part of your daily life?
I’d love to hear from you, via the comments box (below)!
With love, Namaste,