Keeping a gratitude journal is the best way to cultivate an attitude of appreciation. And there's a strong link between feeling gratitude and having more things to be grateful for show up in your life.
It’s been well documented that happy people are more successful in general than unhappy people. And simply put, being grateful is the fastest path to becoming happy and satisfied with your life.
Gratitude allows you to feel good BEFORE your desired result shows up in your life… so even when things are are looking bleak, cultivating a grateful attitude can shift you to a more positive outlook, which in turn lightens you up and allows you to be more in touch with your free spirit.
In our busy world, where there is often a negative bias, being grateful just for what is, is largely overlooked.
But if you start to record your gratitude on a daily basis you’ll begin to notice just how many things you have to be thankful for.
When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears
- Tony Robbins -
Of course, it’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, we all know that. When you’re happy and everything is going your way you'll effortlessly find the space in your heart to feel grateful and your gratitude journal will be overflowing with the reasons why.
But what happens when the wheels fall off? If things seem to be going downhill, and you find yourself struggling, it may be difficult to see anything good at all.
According to Robert A Emmons, Ph.D., (the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude), feeling grateful in these circumstances may be challenging, but being grateful is still possible. In fact, more than that, it's highly beneficial.
He goes on to say that the difference between feeling and being grateful is that feeling grateful is the direct result of a benefit, whereas being grateful is a way of life.
In other words, those ‘feel good’ feelings of gratitude we have when something good happens are great, but actually developing a grateful attitude to life has a far bigger impact.
And so we come to the ‘how’. How do you connect with everything you have to be grateful for?
Enter..... The Gratitude Journal!
Recording reasons for being grateful does many things, but two important benefits stand out:
In the long term it changes the way you perceive life. And by writing down all the things you notice it starts to build your belief that if bad things happen, there are still things to be grateful for, and that even bad experiences offer reasons to be grateful.
You might realize that being retrenched, whilst a devastating blow at the time, gave you the push to do something you'd always wanted to do, like change careers, or start your own business or backpack around the world (why not?!). Something that you probably would never have done if you'd still had the security of your old job.
Your gratitude journal will also serve as a pick-me-up when you're feeling down. Reading back through old entries will remind you there is much to feel appreciation for in your life
Often when you sit down to write the first time, writers block hits! You can’t think of one thing to write. So here are some tips to help you get started.
Remember, your entries do not have be life changing. Just little things that popped up during your day that made you smile, feel glad and lightened your heart in some way.
In the end, whatever you write, one of the most important aspects is that you are being genuine and not just putting anything down so you can put a tick in the box that says 'Write In Gratitude Journal'.
Expressing gratitude obviously exists outside of your journal as well. I have friends who make sure that dinner is a family affair and before they eat, each person has to tell the table one thing they’re grateful for that day.
Apparently the first night they did it they had to think hard, but by the end of the first week everyone was buzzing with what they were going to share at the table that night. What a great way to end the day!
If you write in your gratitude journal regularly, you’ll notice in a relatively short space of time that your attitudes start to change. And as that happens you begin to notice that you have more positive experiences – or do you?
Perhaps they were always there, but you just didn’t notice them before...
So - it's your turn now. Get started with your gratitude journal as soon as you can - you may be amazed at just how many wonderful things are happening around you every day!