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5 Ways A Gratitude Journal Can Improve Your Life

5 Ways A Gratitude Journal Can Improve Your Life

A gratitude journal is a reflection of the things you are thankful for. It is the simple act of recording things into a notebook about things that strike you during the day as having gone well. Although usually done with pen and paper, the multitude of online journalling tools widely available means that you can choose to blog online instead of writing it down, or even post images and caption them instead. When keeping a gratitude journal on a regular basis, there are a host of benefits that arises which can increase mental wellbeing and improve aspects of your life.

It gives you a choice

Knowing you have a choice in life is powerful. Many studies have shown that choice influences your satisfaction in life as well as your coping ability. There will always be at least one thing you can put in your gratitude journal, such as the bus arriving on time or the elevator not breaking down on your way out. The very worst can happen to anyone, but knowing you have a choice to see the good in spite of that is crucial for helping you to maintain your ability to manage yourself well during these situations.

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It teaches you gratitude

Gratitude is feeling appreciative or thankful. We are taught to say thank you by others from an early age, but feeling grateful comes only from within. The act of noting down things you are thankful for helps you to recall the feeling of gratitude, whether the feeling was brief or not. This comes in handy particularly when facing difficult times, when gratitude can often take a back seat to many other feelings that arise easily such as anger, depression or annoyance. Gratitude itself is also associated with other effects such as increased empathy, sensitivity and happiness, which in turn strengthens your ability to learn positive emotions.

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It prepares you to handle problems more calmly

Being grateful doesn’t mean you will ignore your problems, but helps you to shift into a positive and calmer perspective to deal with them productively. Our internal talk is a key factor in determining how easily we slip into depressed, angry or unhappy moods. If you notice a lot of thoughts such as “I won’t be able to do it, why even try” or “why is he acting like so selfishly” in reaction to various events, this can be indicative of negative self talk that has been implicitly reinforced over the years. A gratitude journal helps to reframe your internal self talk gradually to take on a more positive tone by focusing on things that went well, and therefore help you to see problems more objectively and handle them in better ways.

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It keeps you in the present

The very act of journalling grateful thoughts increases your mindfulness by keeping you in the present. Too often, overthinking and dwelling on negative events of the day will keep you distracted and unable to focus on the present task at hand. Keeping a gratitude journal helps you to learn practiced focus as you concentrate on recalling and noting down positive aspects of your day, as well as physically distract you from acting on the impulse arising from any negative feelings.

You become more resilient

The more things you are grateful for, and the more you practice recording down this gratitude, the more easily positive thinking will come to you over time. Your thoughts influence your actions, and so by paying more attention to your gratitude journal, your focus on this process will enable positive thinking to stick and take on a more automatic role in your thoughts. By repeating this process you will increase your resilience, which is the ability to be strong and bounce back after setbacks.

Featured photo credit: Photo Credit: J Yung via photos.google.com

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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