Benefits of Gratitude Journaling
Everyday life can leave you feeling bombarded with negativity. It’s not difficult to understand how discouraging news reports, the apathy or downright rudeness of others, and even the weather can affect our overall moods and emotional state. It’s difficult to find reasons to remain positive when we’re constantly being hit with gloom from so many different angles.
What Is Gratitude?
Though you may have an instinctual idea of what gratitude is, it can be hard to find the words to describe the concept. Ultimately, gratitude is a positive feeling that comes from being appreciative and thankful for an external source, like other people, nature, God, or fate. There are three types characterized by psychologists:
- a trait (overall tendency to have a grateful attitude)
- a mood (daily changes in overall gratitude), or
- an emotion (temporary feeling of gratefulness, such as after receiving a gift).
Gratitude Journaling Benefits
The benefits that come from gratitude journaling can affect nearly every aspect of your life. Though the changes won’t be instantaneous, sticking with a gratitude journaling exercise can inspire these and other benefits.
Along with bolstering your own personal wellbeing, spending time savoring the reasons you’re grateful for a person can increase the satisfaction you experience in that relationship. It can also help you increase your tendency toward showing forgiveness.
Preventing Workplace Burnout
Burnout occurs when your workplace causes you chronic stress that is not successfully managed. Including aspects of your workplace that you’re grateful for in your journal can help manage and even decrease the burnout you’re feeling.
Increased Personal Happiness
Setting aside time to appreciate the good in your life can help balance out any negative feelings for an overall positive emotional state.
Gratitude journaling can help with your sleep. Negative thoughts dominating your brain while you’re trying to relax will hinder your ability to sleep. However, reminding yourself of reasons to be thankful can reduce the time you spend stressed over your worries.
The negative emotions caused by social comparisons can be reduced by showing gratitude. Demonstrating what you are thankful for will also likely decrease any feelings of resentment you’ve had towards others.
Reap the Most Reward
While I’ve already mentioned the most significant potential benefits to gratitude journaling, it will not create an immediate change. Here, I’ve included some ways to ensure you’re maximizing your results as you begin your gratitude journal.
- Get Personal—Choosing to journal about people for whom you’re grateful has a greater impact than journaling on things for which you’re grateful.
- Quality Over Quantity—Going in-depth on your gratitude regarding a single topic tends to have more benefits than creating a superficial list with multiple items.
- Occasional Writing—Writing every day can cause the brain to become numb to positive experiences, while journaling once or twice per week prevents the brain from falling into a rhythm and losing the benefits.
- Document Surprises—Unexpected events tend to result in elevated levels of gratitude.
- Consider Your Gifts—Think of each item in your gratitude journal as a gift to relish and savor, so you may be fully aware of the depth of your gratitude.
- Fully Commit—The motivation to become happier is a driving force in the success of gratitude journaling. It should not be something you simply check off your to-do list; it requires mental commitment and the desire to work for its benefits.
Gratitude Journaling Prompts
It can be hard to start gratitude journaling, primarily because finding the good can be a struggle. I understand how hard it can be to wade through negativity and pinpoint the positive in life. It can help to break down what you write into categories, like relationships, today’s possibilities, something from your past, or an important object. Here are some gratitude journaling ideas within those categories to get you started:
- An old relationship that caused you to grow
- Something a loved one has done for you
- A quality you appreciate in your partner
- A trait you admire in one of your role models
- Something you admire about the employees in the shops you visit
- A positive quality you learned from a parent or family
- A personality trait that you admire in yourself
- Something you perceive as a weakness within yourself that could also be a strength
- Something you are looking forward to
- A unique opportunity you have today that most will not
- A silver lining in an unpleasant event today
- Something you can appreciate about your health
- A stranger that brightened your day
- One thing you can control that would improve today
- A positive aspect of today’s weather
- Something you are more skilled at today than yesterday
Things From the Past
- An obstacle you overcame
- Lessons learned from a previous job
- Three things that made you smile this week
- Something you appreciate about your ancestors and culture
- The last time you laughed until you cried
- A previous, negative experience that you can now appreciate
- Positive aspects of your childhood
- Something you saw yesterday that made you happy
- Something you love and why
- Things to appreciate about the city you live in
- Aspects you enjoy of your favorite restaurant
- A photo that means something to you and why
- Parts of you home that you appreciate
- The way your favorite food or snack makes you feel
- Things you enjoy about the music you listen to
- The type of art you like and why
Success With Gratitude Journaling
Gratitude journaling can have great benefits for your life, but it’s only a piece of your overall wellness. You should combine it with other methods of physical and emotional health improvement, which may include speaking with a professional to continue your recovery journey. There is no shame in acknowledging that you need help; it’s a sign of great strength to see an area you can improve and then towards that goal. You’re worth the time and effort it takes to accomplish your goals, and I am proud of you for taking the first step.