Gratitude challenges you to focus on the good in our life, encouraging more mindful and intentional living. Gratitude Journaling is the practice of capturing the gratitude inspiring experiences in our daily lives to create a more optimistic and generous life. Here are a few ways to get the most out of gratitude journaling.
First and foremost gratitude journaling, like most things, will not work unless you do! You have to make the commitment to live a more fulfilled and thankful life. Gratitude Journaling is most effective when you first make the conscious decision to become happier and more grateful. Journaling also makes us more aware of the deepening emotional impact of the gifts around us, which can easily be overlooked.
“Writing helps to organize thoughts, facilitate integration, and helps you accept your own experiences and put them in context. In essence, it allows you to see the meaning of events going on around you and create meaning in your own life” says Robert Emmons, the leading psychologist on gratitude.
2. DIG DEEP
When writing in your Gratitude Journal, go for depth over breadth. Elaborating in detail about a particular thing/event for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things. Focusing on people to whom you are grateful has more of an impact than focusing on things for which you are grateful.
Grateful people are habitually specific. The richest thank you’s will acknowledge intentions, costs, and they’ll describe the value of benefits received. Try to see each item you write down in your Gratitude Journal as a gift. Be aware of your feelings and how you savor these gifts in your mind.
Experts suggest asking yourself “what I am grateful for,” followed by closing your eyes or putting your hand on your heart, and waiting for the feelings to resonate before writing in your Gratitude Journal. By waiting a bit longer for the feeling to kick in, you know your entry is coming from a deeper place.
3. FOCUS ON THE GRATITUDE
Sometimes we get so focused on the difficulty of the climb that I lost sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb. Reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than feeling deserving or entitled to all the good things in your life. Experiences that heighten meaningful connections with others—like noticing how another person has helped you, acknowledging the effort it took, and savoring how you benefited from it helps you see all of the gratitude worthy things around you.
Record events in your day that were unexpected or surprising, as these tend to elicit stronger levels of gratitude. Celebrate the wins and your feelings. Maya Angelou’s beautiful quote sums it up perfectly, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
4. DO YOU
If daily gratitude journaling is too much for you to start off with, that’s ok. Don’t force it. Instead of OD-ing on gratitude, find a routine that works best for you. If every day and night aren’t feasible for you, try every morning or every other day. You can start with writing down one thing each day that you are grateful for and work your way up to a twice a day practice. It is better to get the full benefit by practicing gratitude regularly, rather than every once and awhile. Leading experts sat that we tend to adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them.
Focus on quality over quantity. To prevent it getting repetitive, you want enough detail so you can visualize the gratitude and feel it. This is key.
To mix things up, you can also try gratitude categories:
Monday = gratitude for relationships
Tuesday = gratitude for family
Wednesday = gratitude about things I love about myself
Thursday = gratitude about helping others
Friday = gratitude about the world
Saturday = gratitude about friends
Sunday = gratitude about my positive qualities
Share your gratitude. Get a gratitude partner to check in with and tell them all of the things that you were grateful for this week. You can pick someone each week that you can share how grateful you are to have them in your life.
Our 21 days of Gratitude Instagram challenge started on Nov. 1st, but its not too late to join! Grab a Gratitude Journal and check out our Gratitude 21 Highlight for all of the journal prompts. Help us spread the magic of gratitude!