Increasing an attitude of gratitude in your day can be incredibly helpful to your overall wellbeing. Many people find that by regularly taking time to notice things that we are grateful for can change their whole attitude. After keeping a gratitude journal or diary for a short time you might find that you are noticing things more easily that you might not normally have noticed. Researchers have found that it can help reduce stress, increase positivity, help sleep, improve relationships and develops resilience. That’s quite a bit isn’t it?
So, how do we get started with a gratitude journal?
Write it Down
It doesn’t matter whether you choose a little notebook, a journal, a diary or something else for your gratitude journal. It can be paper or electronic. It’s entirely up to you and there’s no right or wrong with this. We are different, so find something that suits you. The main point is that you’ve got somewhere or something that you can come back to every day to keep a note of things.
Some people will just write a few words, bullet points or a little list. Others may have more flowing journaling information. Again, it’s really up to you – and it’s OK if this changes.
The important thing is that there is a long term commitment to this. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside hours in your day. Try and find time once a day, or several times a week to come back to your diary / journal / notebook and add information to it. Make sure it’s reasonable and achievable. Avoid having the routine too rigid otherwise if there are times when you don’t manage it you’ll just want to give up. Many people find that taking time at the end or beginning of the day works well.
What to Write?
Choose 3-5 things each day and make a note of them. These don’t need to be big things. Just the little things in life. You might be grateful for your partner, child or the dog! I’m always grateful for my duvet (I love my sleep!!). It might be for a parking space, that the bus was on time, you had an umbrella when it rained. If you are grateful for ‘things’ try and keep them simple things, rather than big grand expensive things because they are not easily achievable consistently. We don’t want you always looking for something out of your reach.
Remember yourself! Be grateful for you, the things that you do, the thing you are able to do. Be grateful for your breath, that your legs walk you around, that you are able to get up and about each day. Not everyone is able to do this! When days are difficult, I am always grateful for my strength and resilience to be able to carry on and get through each day.
Keep the gratitude as purely positive things and do reflect back to ensure you are mixing things up a bit and not writing the same thing every day (although my duvet does feature highly in my list several times a week!).
Create the Habit
Experts say it takes 21 days for a new habit to form and then a little longer for it be embedded and become “normal” in your life. So give this a fair chance. Do it for a month or even two and then see if you notice a difference.
When you write things down and do it regularly you create something to look back on. The gratitude builds in your diary and within you too. Then at times of difficulty you can also look back through your gratitude journal and have something to reflect on and lift you up, help you to keep going. This can be so simple and easy to use to boost you at times when you feel stressed or fed up.