About three months ago, I started keeping a gratitude journal. I want to share my practice for this and the benefits that I’ve seen as a result. I keep it very simple. I write three things that I am grateful for and if I have extra time to write something else, I’ll write about something positive that happened in the last 24 hours. Sometimes I may write a whole page or even a page and a half. Other days I may barely squeak out a paragraph. I choose to write in my gratitude journal first thing in the morning.
I decided I was going to start a gratitude journal about a year ago. I had done a bit of research on it, and the things that I read recommended writing in your gratitude journal right before you go to sleep. So, I kept my journal and pen on my nightstand and was ready to write! I am embarrassed to admit that this literally only lasted two days. I wrote in my gratitude journal TWICE and then gave up on it. Why did I give up on it so quickly? Mostly because I was too tired or just flat out didn’t feel like taking the time to write by the time I got in the bed at night.
How did I turn this around? For starters, I changed the time of day. If you’ve ever read a B.E. Healthy article before, you probably know I am a morning person. I love mornings! So I had an “ah-ha” moment! Of course, I don’t want to write at night… I’m not a night person. Not surprisingly, I’m (almost) always up for writing in the morning. I would recommend planning your writing time during your favorite time of day. If you are a night owl, write at night! If you are an early rising morning lover, write in the morning. If you feel most alert in the early afternoon, take some time during your lunch break to write. Regardless of the time of day you choose, keep it consistent. Writing at the same time each day makes it part of a routine, and you’ll be much more likely to maintain your gratitude journal. Don’t stress if you miss a day or two. Jump back in the next day!
The other important change I made was making my gratitude journal easily accessible. I found that if I had to do too much work to get to it, I would be much more likely to put it off. For example, if I had to pull it out of a cabinet AND search for a pen… it probably wasn’t going to happen. But if I left my journal on the coffee table with a pen lying on top of it, I found I was much more likely to consistently write in it.
Finally, adjust it to what works for you. There is no formula for the “correct” way to write in a gratitude journal. Write in paragraphs or bullet point style… whatever style works best for you. Keep it as long or short as you’d like. There is no specific length that each entry has to be. Some days you’ll have more to write and some days you’ll have less to write. No big deal!
Now on to the benefits! What benefits do I see after writing in a gratitude journal (consistently) for three months? Frankly, it’s only one benefit. However, this benefit is powerful and life changing. This exercise has caused me to be a more grateful person. I notice and acknowledge – both in my head and verbally to those around me – when I am grateful for something. We ALL have so much for which to be thankful, regardless of our situation. Keeping a gratitude journal is a fantastic way to practice this. I can assure you, keeping a consistent gratitude journal will cause you to notice all of the things around you (no matter how big or small) that you have to be grateful for.