Once you get into the habit of contemplating what you’re grateful for each day, it’s time to consider making it a written activity. This can be intimidating for people who don’t like to write or who feel they may not have time to dedicate to such a practice. In all honesty, it really doesn’t take much more time to write it down than to just think on what you appreciate.
You don’t even have to have strong writing skills to jot down three sentences. Let’s see if we can’t make the process seem less stressful. There truly are some fantastic benefits that come from the physical process of creating a record of gratefulness.
While it’s called a “gratitude journal,” it’s actually a tool or a record. You don’t have to write in a paper journal. You could put it in a file on your desktop, or save it in the “notes” app on your phone. The important part is that you take the time each day to record a few things that make you feel fortunate. Doing so can actually help to manifest more positive things.
Writing down what you’re appreciative of each day brings that sense of gratefulness to the forefront. It allows you to focus on the positive, helping you to spot opportunities you might otherwise have missed. When I think about the sacred journey from chaos to calm, gratitude is one of the most important stops on the journey. And the great thing about keeping a gratitude journal is that you now have a written record to pull out and reflect over any time you’re feeling down or needy. It can provide you with motivation in the toughest of times.
There are many benefits to keeping a gratitude journal. Instilling a writing practice in this way ensures that you maintain a focus on positivity. Sure, sometimes bad things may happen, but this overall emphasis on finding the good can help to provide you with the resilience to keep going.
Your stress levels will decrease as you begin embracing an attitude of gratitude. Plus, the act of writing can be therapeutic in itself. Writing also helps to give you a different perspective on things that you might not see as readily without engaging in the process. You can identify patterns and insight into your life that might help you to identify opportunities and to grow.
The most important thing when it comes to a gratitude journal is the consistency of practice. Some journal twice daily. Others prefer once. Regardless, it will only be useful if you use it regularly.
One of the best ways to help yourself want to use your journal is to choose a format you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to write in a journal by hand if you prefer to use electronic methods. You can keep your records in a simple word processing spreadsheet or use one of many apps that are available for this purpose.
On the other hand, if you are inspired by a beautifully-bound paper journal, find one that speaks to you and start writing your thoughts down immediately. One member of the Facebook group said she keeps her gratitude journal in a Day Planner, so it’s easy to chronicle what she was thankful for each day of the year.
No matter what you use, keep it handy by your bedside or on easily accessed devices. Turn your routine into a ritual. Make it a process that feeds your soul. Incorporate your morning coffee into your journal writing or light a candle with a lovely aroma to accompany your routine.
Just make it yours.
A gratitude journal can be an insightful and life-changing tool. Remember, you only have to write three simple things you’re grateful for. There’s no need to make it complicated. Start your record keeping practice today and see what it can do for you.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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