We all know how busy and hard life can get – especially in the past one year, it has been easier and easier to focus only on the negative things as they were the majority of things happening in the world. However, no matter how difficult we may find our life at the moment, we are constantly surrounded by small moments that bring us joy every day, even if we are not able to realize it at that very moment. If someone were to ask you what you’re grateful for right now, would you have an answer to go? Could you easily recall the small moments that brought you joy today? I know that it would have been difficult for me to answer those questions quickly so I decided to introduce a new daily habit that would help me live my life a bit more intentionally – to choose how I spend my time, how I spend my money, and how I feel each and every day.
Almost two months ago I started my own gratitude journal – this was my personal present for my birthday this year. Being home the majority of my time, a lot of my days got a bit blurry and I felt that nothing was actually happening in my life so I decided that it was high time that I started reflecting on them and trying to find small things that made me happy every day. The simple habit of reflecting on what you’re grateful for can actually lead to a happier and more content life – all it takes is a few minutes of your time and a gratitude journal to record your thoughts.
Gratitude journals are not like the diary you kept as a teenager. Instead of writing random thoughts about my day, I use my journal to record the things I am mostly grateful for – big or small – and remind myself in harder days that there is so much sunshine and joy in my life that it is really pointless to focus on the few bad things that have happened that day. We are what we tell ourselves we are so it is really important to have control over our thoughts and emotions and try to shift them to a more positive outlook on our lives.
So if you are also trying to start a gratitude journal, here is what has helped me so far.
CHOOSE A JOURNAL
This might be the easiest step in establishing a gratitude journaling habit – get yourself a journal. It doesn’t need to be the fanciest journal on the market but you need to consider a few things before purchasing it and answering these questions will make it a bit easier. Do you prefer to write in a physical journal or record your thoughts digitally? Will you be carrying it around with you or keeping it in one place? Would you need it for an extended period of time?
Personally, I opted for the Leuchtturm1917 Some Lines A Day 5 Year Memory Book as I wanted to use my journal for years to come and be able to reflect on my progress and life in general. The A5 format makes it extremely easy to carry around if I am traveling somewhere. There is a reasonable space to write just a few lines, depending on the size of your writing. There are two satin page markers, which compliment the well made, sturdy cover that I am sure will easily withstood the five years of use. The best thing about Some Lines a Day is that you can see what you were doing/thinking that day in previous years. A great way to check on your progress re personal and business goals, memories of holidays and relatives, all in little snapshots. I got mine in the bright berry color but the color options are really so many that there will be something of everyone’s taste.
SET ASIDE TIME FOR WRITING
Next, you need to set aside specific time of the day to write in your gratitude journal. Make it a habit of writing at the same time every day and you will see how easily you will be able to keep the habit in your everyday routine. For me, journaling is part of my morning routine and very rarely of my evening wind down. In the morning, I find that it helps start my day on a positive note and instead of worrying about all of the things that need to get done, I start with good things that I am truly grateful for. It frames my day in positivity, regardless of what will unfold.
DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO FOCUS ON
Gratitude journaling is not a competition of who can come up with the cheesiest saying or who has the prettiest journal or nicest writing. It is simply the action of cultivating positivity by acknowledging the good things in life – no matter how small or mundane they might be. So understanding why you need gratitude journaling instead of just jumping in will make your new habit easier to stick to.
Consider carefully what might be your personal reasons to keep a gratitude journal – would it be to lower stress levels, or have a greater sense of calm, or achieve a new level of clarity? You will definitely learn more about yourself in the process and gain a fresh perspective that will allow you to recognize blessings in disguise. As you continue to practice, you’ll be able to focus your time and energy on the things that truly make you the happiest version of yourself.
START WITH GRATITUDE JOURNAL PROMPTS
If you find it difficult to start journaling on a regular basis, I suggest using gratitude journal prompts like:
- 3 things I am grateful for
- 3 things that would make today amazing
- 3 amazing things that happened today
- 3 things that would have made it better
I can guarantee you that these simple prompts will help you start writing and you will no longer approach journaling as if it is this daunting task.
FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
One of the best things about gratitude journaling is that there are no specific rules you need to follow 100%. It’s for your eyes only, so feel free to make it all about your interests and what makes YOU happy. As you become more comfortable, you will see that it gets easier and easier to reflect on your day and find the small things that have made it this amazing.
With the numerous benefits that starting a gratitude journal has to offer and the number of highly successful individuals that have incorporated it into their daily lives, it is definitely worth giving it a shot. It is one of the most inexpensive and non time-consuming ways to improve your mental health and reap the benefits of a happier life.
What is your favorite way to practice gratitude? Let me know in the comments below.
*Photography by Nikola Ivanov