Gratitude and being grateful are beneficial to our health. Almost everyone feels a little better immediately when they think of the things they are grateful for. But to reap the continuous benefits of gratefulness you need to make it a consistent practice. And that’s where gratitude journaling comes in.
In a previous article I wrote about mindful journaling which helps you become more conscious of the present moment. Mindful journaling is something that may be beneficial immediately, but it may not be something you do every day. Gratitude journaling, on the other hand, is something that is easy to start and becomes more beneficial the more you practice it. It only takes a few minutes a day but the feeling of joy and happiness can be noticed immediately as well as exponentially as you continue the practice.
What is gratitude journaling?
Gratitude may be one of the easier emotional skills to develop. Unlike mindfulness, which can be quite tricky to learn, gratitude is relatively easy. In her book Journaling for Dummies, Amber Lea Starfire writes of gratitude journaling: “It’s a way of continually reminding yourself, no matter what else is going on, of what’s going well in your life and of the good that continues to come your way.” Gratitude journaling is focused on noticing what’s good in your life.
Gratitude journaling can be as simple as adding one or two things you are grateful for to a regular journal each day, or it can be a separate journal in which you expound upon the things you are thankful for in your life, and those things that make you happy.
What are the health benefits?
Gratitude journaling can help lower your stress levels. It can be especially helpful for those who are going through difficult times, as it can help to shift your focus to the positive aspects of your life. The Mayo Clinic states: “behavior changes biology. Positive gestures benefit you by releasing oxytocin, a hormone that helps connect people. Some people call it the love hormone.” Everyone can benefit from gratitude journaling, no matter who you are or what your life circumstances are. Additionally, it can help to create a sense of appreciation for the people, experiences, and things that you have in your life.
Some additional health benefits can include:
– Helping you sleep better by reducing negative thoughts and increasing positive emotions before bedtime.
– Lowering your blood pressure and improve your heart health by enhancing your mood and reducing anxiety.
– Increasing your happiness and positive mood by boosting your self-esteem, optimism, and satisfaction with life.
How do you journal?
Keeping a gratitude journal can help you shift your focus from negative to positive. Writing down what you are thankful for each day can help you to recognize the good things in your life, no matter how small they may be. This can help to put things in perspective and can help to make you feel more optimistic and less overwhelmed. Taking the time to reflect on the positive aspects of your life can help to reduce stress and anxiety, while also allowing you to appreciate the little things that often go unnoticed.
Keeping a gratitude journal can be a great way to start each day with a positive outlook and to end the day feeling thankful. It can be done in many forms, such as writing in a journal, making lists, or simply reflecting on the positive things in life. It can help to reframe negative thoughts and experiences, allowing one to focus on the positive aspects of life. It can also help to build relationships and foster a sense of connectedness with others. (see example exercise below)
If you’re not sure where to start, try brainstorming a list of things you’re grateful for each day. This can be anything from the small things like a cup of coffee in the morning, to the bigger things like your family and friends. Writing down a list of things you are thankful for can help you to focus on the positive aspects of your life and be more mindful of the things that bring you joy. Taking a few moments each day to reflect on the things that you are grateful for can help to put life into perspective and make it easier to appreciate the good things that you have. Don’t forget to be grateful for the little things in life – they can make a big difference. Even something as simple as a smile or a kind word can make a huge difference. Being grateful for the little things can help us to appreciate the beauty and joy that life has to offer. It can also help us to stay positive and motivated, even during difficult times.
In a recent episode on journaling the host of the podcast “Focused ” mentioned this quote by Jessamyn West, “people who keep journals have life twice”. When you are journaling about things you are grateful for you are feeling the joy of whatever you are thinking about for the second time. The more time you spend thinking about things that make you happy, the less time you have to feel sad or angry or depressed.
Gratitude Journaling Exercise:
From “Journaling for Dummies” the following exercise helps you to become more self-aware of things around you.
- Right now, where you are, look around you.
- List five objects or people you see.
- Write something you can feel grateful for about each person or item.
- Why do you think you chose those five things out of everything else around you?
This exercise helps you focus on gratitude, but also becoming aware of the things around you, and it might help you identify subconscious feelings also.
A Few Resources with Additional Ideas for Gratitude Prompts”
Gratitude Journal: 66 Templates & Ideas for Daily Journaling
The Ultimate Gratitude Journal Guide
Gratitude Journal: Examples, Ideas, and Strategies
Remember that gratitude is a practice, and it takes time and effort to make it part of your life. Gratitude is something that we should all strive to incorporate into our lives. It is important to remember that it is not something that will come easily or naturally, but rather something that needs to be actively practiced. It takes time and effort to make gratitude a part of our life, but the rewards are worth it. When we take the time to stop and appreciate the good things in our lives, it can help to bring us peace and joy. So, take the time to cultivate gratitude in your life and reap the rewards of a more positive outlook.
The Spiritual Naturalist Society works to spread awareness of spiritual naturalism as a way of life, develop its thought and practice, and help bring together like-minded practitioners in fellowship.
SNS strives to include diverse voices within the spectrum of naturalistic spirituality. Authors will vary in their opinions, terms, and outlook. The views of no single author therefore necessarily reflect those of all Spiritual Naturalists or of SNS.