How To Keep A Gratitude Journal For Personal Growth
Keeping a gratitude journal is an easy way to boost the joy and growth in your life.
In just a few minutes a day, you’ll create something that keeps you focused and helps your entire mindfulness routine.
Let’s take a look at how you start and maintain one, some prompts to use if you get stuck, and a few examples of the positive impact this kind of journal makes.
What Is A Gratitude Journal
A gratitude journal is something you write in daily where you list a few things you’re thankful for. Most people write about recent things and limit their list to 3 to 5 points. However, the sky is the limit and your journal should reflect how you’re feeling, not follow any set rules.
In fact, your thankfulness journal might just be a sacred space where you always maintain positivity and write from a perspective of compassion and love.
That brings us to our first tip.
Keep Your Journal Positive
Although there are many benefits to your journal, the main point is to start seeing the world and your place in it with rose-colored glasses. It’s not about deluding yourself. Instead, you’re training your brain to look for the good things instead of focusing on the bad.
In order to do this, you need to keep this space positive. If you have things to get off your chest, keep a separate notebook or try recording a voice memo in your phone. This lets you vent without triggering the kind of brain entrainment that happens when we write.
Anyway you keep your journal is beneficial, but f you can actually put pen to paper, that’s even better!
When you are writing something down with a pen and paper, you are stimulating a collection of cells in the base of your brain known as the reticular activating system. The RAS is the filter for all of the information your brain needs to process and it gives more attention to what you are currently focusing on.
In other words, the physical act of writing brings the information to the forefront and triggers your brain to pay close attention. – Neurorelay.com
Stay In An Expansive Mindset
The first rule of improv might be, always say, ‘yes, and…’ but that also applies to an aligned, positive life!
Of course, we can’t take this advice too literally, boundaries are also important. But the more you can start small and go bigger in your internal headspace, the richer your life becomes.
What we mean by that, specifically as it applies to your journal, is to follow positive thoughts outward, like the concentric rings we see when we toss a pebble into a pond or the beautiful natural design of a spider web. Start to see the connectedness of the positive things in your life because the happier and more aligned you are, the more you’ll notice, take advantage of, and even create good things.
If you’re thankful for the beautiful card a loved one gave you, ask yourself, ‘what next?’ Does that then make you realize what a positive impact they make on your life? What about love in general, and the bonds we share with people? Isn’t that also worthy of gratitude?
See how this game works? It’s fun!
It applies to all of your internal dialogue too, by the way. When you’re feeling crappy, find one small, general but positive thing that you can say and then expand it. On days you struggle to come up with things for your gratitude list, try this exercise in written form.
Expanding A Small Positive Thought
Another way to think of this exercise is going up a mental ladder or staircase where each level is just a little more specific but also grander in its scope.
- Find something small that’s positive. ‘I woke up on time this morning.’
- Well, what next? ‘Because I woke up on time this morning, I got to enjoy my coffee in peace and see a beautiful sunrise.’
- Ok, then what!? ‘I’m really grateful that small pleasures like coffee and a sunrise spark so much joy for me. Seeing the sun bathe the world in a warm glow reminded me how appreciative I am of the chaotic order of the natural world.’
- Now, take it one more step. ‘In fact, I found it easy to focus on these good things and that’s something I’ve learned to do over time, which means I’m proud of myself and my progress.
- Keep going as long as you can until your statements are as broad as possible. ‘I’m noticing really positive changes in my life and how I feel since I started being more positive and mindful. I have a much better relationship with my roommate now cause I’m in a better mood. I’m realizing how much my outlook impacts those around me!’
- You get the idea by now, but keep going if you can. ‘By being a more positive person, I’m helping everyone in my orbit and that creates a ripple effect that really makes a difference. I’m starting to feel like I can do anything I set my mind to!
This simple exercise usually helps improve your mood almost effortlessly. Try it sometime!
You Choose When You Write
There’s no ‘right’ time of the day to write in your journal. However, there are benefits to the times or rhythm you choose.
Making your list in the morning gives you an opportunity to start the day off in a really positive headspace. However, writing in your gratitude journal at night helps you reflect on your day. Both of these approaches are beneficial so try them both and see what feels best for you.
Many people take a hybrid approach or even keep notes in their phone or some small personal notebook they carry with them so they can jot down positive moments as they happen. This can actually be an amazing way to increase your mindfulness. You’ll naturally develop a habit of looking for things to feel good about.
If you want to write in your journal both in the morning and in the evenings, try writing in the morning about three general things that are broad that you’re grateful for, and in the evening write about three specific things that happened during the day that made you feel warm and fuzzy.
How To Keep A Gratitude Journal Going When You’re Uninspired: Prompts To Help!
Here are some gratitude journal prompts to help you get going or when you get stuck.
What positive interactions did you have with people today?
Did you notice anything today that made you happy to be alive?
What are some areas in your life you noticed improvements in? Have things become easier or more natural?
Name three ways you helped someone else today.
If you need even more journal prompts and ways to be mindful about gratitude, check out Bianca Taylor’s eBook about livin
Don’t make your journaling time complicated, just go with the flow! However you approach it, it’s just important that you try. Can you make it a goal to write for just 5 minutes a day, starting today?