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.
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.
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.
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.
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